Afghan interpreters start new life in NZ

  • Breaking
  • 22/04/2013

Afghan interpreters who helped New Zealand forces in Bamyan started a new life this afternoon when they touched down on Kiwi soil.

Thirty interpreters and their 64 family members arrived to a warm welcome from Defence Force personnel, immigration and police at Whenuapai Airbase.

The Government offered the interpreters a resettlement package in New Zealand amid fears they would be killed by the Taliban once Kiwi soldiers left Afghanistan this month.

Lieutenant General Rhys Jones greeted the group in Maori, English and their own language, Dari.

Lt Gen Jones told the interpreters New Zealand owed them a huge debt for their services to the country.

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse says he is confident the interpreters will have a great future in New Zealand. 

"No one is expecting that it will be all that easy for you," said Mr Woodhouse. "But, I'm sure you'll find New Zealand a very welcoming country."

New Zealand Police Commissioner Peter Marshall attributed a large portion of the country's success in Afghanistan to the interpreters.

"It's now our turn to return the favour and be mates to you," said Mr Marshall.

It was a long journey for the group – they have travelled from Afghanistan to Dubai, and then to Sydney, where they changed to an Airforce flight to make the final journey to Auckland.

It was the first time any of the children had been on a plane and the first time interpreter Parwiz Hakimi, 28, had ever seen the ocean.

Mr Hakimi told media his greatest wish is to get an education for his three daughters, aged five, three and three months old – the youngest child in the group.

Mr Hakimi had to leave university in Afghanistan so he could work to feed his family. Now, he looks forward to setting foot on some of New Zealand's beaches.

The interpreters and their families will spend the next eight weeks at the Mangare Refugee Resettlement Centre, adjusting to the change of scenery.

After that they will begin a new life in Hamilton and Palmerston North, where many of the interpreters have strong friendships with Defence Force personnel.

3 News

source: newshub archive