Migrant centre change

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by Greta Yeoman

Rosie Knoppel may be leaving the organisation she started, but she can be assured the Aoraki Migrant Centre is in good hands.

Mrs Knoppel, who started the centre with the support of the Aoraki Multicultural Council in 2014, is returning to her home country of Germany.

Timaru resident Katy Houstoun, who previously worked for Work and Income, will take over as manager.

Based at Timaru’s Community House in Strathallan St, the migrant centre provides information, support and connections for migrants and other newcomers to Timaru and the wider Aoraki area.

Mrs Knoppel said while the town’s migrant population had become more visible during her time at the centre – particularly with growing numbers of Indian and Filipino migrants working in the area – the migrant community was still “very transient”.

Mrs Knoppel said she was happy that Mrs Houstoun had got the role, as she would bring a lot of knowledge to the job.

Mrs Houston said her work had involved supporting clients in finding employment and she had also been involved in family violence initiatives in the past six months.

Having grown up in Porirua, just out of Wellington, met her husband in London and moved to South Canterbury, had all given her some understanding the difficulty of moving to new places, she said.

While she did not have the same experiences as many migrants, Mrs Houstoun said her work helping people and a love of travelling would help her in the new role.

Mrs Knoppel encouraged people connected to the Aoraki Migrant Centre, or others who could want support, to come into the centre’s office to meet the new manager.

She reminded residents that all of the migrant centre’s services would remain running as usual, particularly the two social coffee groups.

There is a newcomers’ coffee group at Zest on Wednesdays at 10am – for all new Aoraki residents – and another just for migrants, called Coffee, Tea and Chat, hosted at Community House at 10am on Thursdays.

The Aoraki Migrant Centre marked its fifth anniversary last month.

For more information on the centre or to contact Katy Houstoun, phone (03) 687-7371 or email aorakimigrantcentre@xtra.co.nz.