In June 2013, the team behind Doing Our Bit launched a campaign to double NZ’s quota of refugees – a number that hasn’t increased in 29 years. While the campaign has gained an amazing amount of support, this September is the last chance before 2019 to pressure the government to substantially increase the quota. Doing Our Bit are determined to make it happen – but they need your help!
Doing Our Bit launched their PledgeMe project so that people who are too busy with work or other causes can still contribute to the #DoubleTheQuota campaign. And within a day, the campaign reached its funding goal! But there’s still time for you to pledge – so we had a chat to organiser Murdoch Stephens to find out why you should be getting involved.
Why do you think this campaign is important?
In a time of Trump New Zealand needs to take a strong stand on the values that we hold dear. This campaign is about resourcing our supporters to tell all election candidates that refugees are welcome in New Zealand, and that we wont become meek in the face of tyrants. We’ve been campaigning to double the refugee quota or almost four years. On a practical note, the campaign represents the last chance before mid 2019 to pressure the government to increase the refugee quota. It really is now or never.
At the most transactional level, increasing the refugee quota is important to me because refugees have already provided so much benefit to New Zealand. The history of refugees in New Zealand has been one of innovation, struggle, and success. If not for us taking small numbers of refugees – and we’ve never been a world leader, and won’t even if we double the quota – we’d never have the same coffee culture, developed by former refugees from Central Europe, nor would we have that much-loved recipe for Vogels bread, which was bought here by a former refugee.
At the broadest level, a fair refugee intake is about the universal application of human rights; it’s about whether if you’re fleeing violence or persecution you have the right to have your case for protection heard, or whether you want to build walls and push people back to misery and death. The quota is particularly important as it provides a way out for the most vulnerable, people who are trapped in neighbouring countries where they risk arrest and are mostly prevented from doing the simple things in life like going to school or working.
What motivated you to reach out to your crowd?
Two things: we wanted to connect to the massive range of people in New Zealand looking for a tried and tested way of assisting refugees. PledgeMe allows us to see connect to those willing to engage in the campaign, whether that’s helping out with $10 or $1500 or even just signing up to help (there is a form on the page). The funding from those who sign up and pledge will give us a base of resources to push towards the 2017 general election. So we’re really using PledgeMe as a platform to connect with our supporters as much as to fund the campaigning over the next six months.
We’ve never asked for funds before because we mostly used volunteer time and were lucky enough to have some private sponsors last year after the peak of the refugee crisis in the media. This year we weren’t able to get those funds but were desperate to make sure the campaign was done to the standard we’ve met in the past. While volunteer time is still our main resource, a few thousand dollars can be stretched really far for grassroots charitable trusts like Doing Our Bit.
What do you have planned for the rest of the campaign – anything for us to look forward to?
On the final day of the campaign we’re hosting a telethon style party at 17 Tory St in Wellington from 7-10pm counting down to the closing of the PledgeMe page. We’ve got Wellington’s Mayor Justin Lester opening it up with Ibrahim Omer, music from Ruth Mundy, and readings from Emily Writes, Brannavan Gnanalingam and Marianne Elliott and more. We’ll be livestreaming it via our Facebook page for everyone unable to make it.
Anything you want to shout out to your crowd?
Massive thanks to those who pledged in the first 24 hours. We reached out first goal in that time and we’re so very grateful to all those people who made that happen. Now we need to push on to our stretch goals to make for a really powerful campaign. All our budget details are on the page and you can rest assure that we’re making the funds stretch as far as possible. It’s also worth remembering that what will really take this campaign over the line are volunteers – if you can pledge, great; if you can’t, then still sign up to help – we’ll need all of the voices we can get.