Our Head of Research Renata Mokena-Lodge is leaving us for the sunny shores of Tanzania on Monday. Where she will work for American NGO; Asylum Access to provide legal advice to refugees. Asylum Access is an international non-profit organisation working towards the assurance of refugee rights in first countries of refuge. They aim to change the legal and policy landscapes of these countries to ensure refugee rights are tangible and accessible, reducing dependence on legal aid.

Renata has worked at the Institute since completing her LLB in February 2013. During her time with us she has worked on a variety of projects, including co-authoring Report 16: An Overview of Genetic Modification in New Zealand 1973–2013: The first forty years. Renata also helped to organise and participated in LivingStandardsNZ; our most recent youth workshop with Treasury, held in December last year. This year she has been working on updating our 2007 report, Report 2: New Zealand Central Government Strategies; Reviewing the Landscape 1990–2007 (August 2007) which will be published later in the year.

Renata is passionate about refugee legal issues and issues surrounding forced migration. Whilst working for us she has also been providing legal assistance to refugees through two programmes run by Community Law Wellington and Hutt Valley since 2012. During this time she has also been a refugee resettlement volunteer with Red Cross Refugee Services, helping to settle refugees into Wellington life.

Renata will be based in Asylum Access’s Tanzania office in Dar es Salaam. Asylum Access has been able to successfully secure the recognition of an urban refugee population and today is working in conjunction with the Tanzanian government and UNHCR The UN Refugee Agency, to develop an urban refugee policy that will allow refugees to safely live and work in Tanzania rather than residing solely in refugee camps.

Whilst we are sad to be losing Renata we are also incredibly proud of her and of the important work she will be able to contribute to in Tanzania. As such the Institute has decided to donate $5000 to Renata in support of the work she will be doing for Asylum Access.

The fact that the global figure of the forcibly displaced has recently exceeded 50 million for the first time since World War II makes this work so important. In this context it is reassuring to know that there are NGOs developing innovative and effective solutions to what is a complex and systemic issue. Another NGO successfully creating lasting solutions for refugees in East Africa is RefugePoint based in Kenya. RefugePoint receives funding from Jasmine Social Investments; a New Zealand Charitable Foundation founded by friend of the Institute Sam Morgan.


The Institute team after work on Renata's last day.

The Institute team after work on Renata’s last day.