Early African community members came to New Zealand on humanitarian grounds or refugees – predominately from the horn of Africa (especially Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti and Sudan). Between 1992 and 2001, roughly 3,000 refugees from the Horn of Africa came to New Zealand. Ethiopians were the first to arrive, followed by Eritreans, then Somalis (Somalis accounted for almost 1,500 of this refugee population). Most of these refugees were fleeing political unrest in their homelands; which combined with the famine of 1992 caused devastating economic hardship in the area.
As well as the African refugee population, 46,806 migrants came to New Zealand from Africa between 2002 and 2004. Most of these migrants were from southern Africa (mostly South Africa and Zimbabwe). In many cases, the political climate in their home countries was a factor in their migration – for example those from Zimbabwe were escaping from political instability and a devastating economic decline.
The massive migration brought a significant number of Africans living with HIV to New Zealand; most of these people already faced resettlement challenges (employment, Immigration issues, housing, racism, segregation).
This situation prompted the New Zealand government, through the Ministry of Health, to establish the Refugee Health Education Programme (RHEP). Later in acknowledgement of the large amount of African migrants that lived alongside the refugee population, RHEP changed its name to African Health Promotion Programme (AHPP). In an important decision, after broad consultation with the different African Communities it was decided that the AHPP would come under the umbrella of the New Zealand AIDS Foundation (NZAF).