10 May 2013

Refugee centre to be expanded

4:47 pm on 10 May 2013

The Government is to spend $5.5 million rebuilding New Zealand's only refugee centre, partly so it could cope with a mass arrival of asylum-seekers.

The Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre in South Auckland houses refugees for their first six weeks in the country.

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse said on Friday the facility is nearly 70 years old and many of its buildings are beyond repair.

Mr Woodhouse said it currently can accommodate up to 160 people, but will be expanded to handle 192.

In the case of a mass arrival of asylum-seekers, it would be able to house up to 300 people. However, Mr Woodhouse said this is not the main reason for expansion.

"The resettlement centre required rebuilding regardless of that.

"But I think it is an opportunity to make sure that the facilities are of a very high standard, that they are secure both for the people being resettled and also that we can manage the scale of a mass arrival, should one occur."

The rebuild is expected to be completed by the end of 2014.