Nelson is researching the best model for settling its migrant population, now the country's third highest.
The Nelson Multicultural Council and Victoria University are conducting a study on the region's growing diversity.
The project aims to get a better idea of the region's ethnic minorities and migrant communities; their needs, aspirations and processes of integration and settlement.
Its research coordinator, Brigid Ryan, said information would be gathered from a series of workshops underway throughout the region running until late November.
The information would be used to help guide the council and other agencies in supporting new arrivals as well as those who have been settled for some time.
Ms Ryan said more than 20 percent of Nelson-Tasman's total population of 100,000 was born overseas.
She said migrants included refugees and those from developed countries, who also needed help adjusting to work and lifestyle changes.
New migrants brought diversity and vibrancy, but a big challenge was funding bridging services, Ms Ryan said.
"Such as when former refugees move on from Red Cross and start to access mainstream services, it's quite challenging where people still don't speak English, so that means language is a barrier."
She said migrants were attracted to the region for the work opportunities, but also the lifestyle it offered.
"In the workshops so far what's been highlighted is that people feel safe here. I think with all that's happening in the world these days, parents feeling safe, and keeping their children safe is such a big thing.
"What value can you put on safety," Ms Ryan said.