Welcome Mat Programme

Supporting the business community and promoting economic growth in the region.


The Welcome Mat Programme is available to employers in the Southland / Murihiku region who want to provide support outside the workplace to employees new to our region. The Programme helps the employee, and any family members, deal with many of the issues that arise with moving to a new community.

The Programme is a valuable opportunity for the Southland Business Chamber to support the local business community and promote economic growth in the region. By providing personalised support and assistance to new residents, the programme aims to increase the retention of skilled workers and make the region a more attractive and vibrant place to live, work and play. 

Programme objectives:

  • To provide support and assistance to new residents of Murihiku, helping them to settle into the region and become engaged members of the community.
  • To increase the retention of skilled workers in the Murihiku region, by addressing the challenges and issues that contribute to high turnover rates.
  • To provide insights and feedback to the Chamber and other stakeholders, to inform a longer-term and sustainable approach to attraction and retention in the region.

Services include (as required by the employee):

  • Meetings, typically over a coffee, to provide contact outside of the workplace and to discuss matters that the employee requires assistance with
  • Registration with a doctor and/or dentist
  • Assistance with obtaining accommodation
  • Advice on school zoning and assistance with organising school visits
  • Budgeting advice
  • Assistance with major purchases
  • Assistance with joining community groups or sports teams
  • Advice on day to day matters such as the use of rubbish bins, heating options and tips, and so on
  • Providing support to family members
  • Assistance with navigating local customs, culture, and regulations.

Jane Billows is the Southland / Murihiku Welcome Mat Co-ordinator running the Programme, on the Chamber’s behalf.  Jane has seen employers and members come to appreciate the Programme as a useful tool.

“We have been asked to assist with a wide range of matters. Obtaining access to a doctor and a dentist is typically a first step. From there, it can be as diverse as assisting with accommodation and school zones, to simply explaining how our rubbish bin system works. Often, and perhaps most importantly, it is meeting for a coffee and being available to discuss issues that arise” Jane says.

PowerNet HR Partner Faye McLeod says the company has 12 employees registered with the Programme and she has seen the benefits the Programme provides.

“Our new employees have made huge commitments in their personal lives and, in many cases, temporarily left families behind to make new lives in Southland. This programme provides an additional level of support to help them settle into the Southland community, and we know they very much appreciate and utilise Jane’s support”.

“Jane regularly meets with our new employees to ensure everything is going smoothly. Our new employees can raise matters with Jane that they consider are not appropriate and find uncomfortable raising directly with their employer.  As a result, we work together with Jane to ensure that they settle into our Southland lifestyle as easily and as smoothly as possible”  Faye McLeod.

Joining the Programme:

If you would like more information regarding the Chamber’s Southland Murihiku Welcome Mat Programme, including the costs involved, then please contact Jane at jane@southlandchamber.co.nz.

If you would like more information regarding The Southland Murihiku Welcome Mat Programme