Red Cross commits $20 million of the NZ Disaster Fund
11 August 2023
Six months on from Cyclone Gabrielle, New Zealand Red Cross has committed more than $20 million of the $27 million New Zealand Disaster Fund. The Fund supports communities and people whose homes and livelihoods were damaged during the devastating weather events earlier this year.
This weekend marks half a year since Cyclone Gabrielle cut a destructive path through much of the North Island, barely three weeks after the damaging Anniversary weekend flooding in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland.
Within days, Red Cross people were providing shelter, support and supplies, but more was needed.
New Zealand Red Cross launched a fundraising appeal. The New Zealand public and businesses were quick to respond and support the many thousands affected. Eventually more than 54,000 people and hundreds of businesses donated over $27 million to the Fund.
New Zealand Red Cross Secretary General Sarah Stuart-Black says her organisation has worked hard to distribute the Fund fairly and effectively since the disasters, and she’s pleased more than $20 million has now been distributed or committed to projects now underway.
“The past six months have been an incredibly difficult time for so many people and we’re so pleased to have been able to give a hand to help.” she says. “Thousands of people were affected by these disasters and we had to think very hard about how to best stretch the Fund to help as many in need as possible.”
Stuart-Black says New Zealand Red Cross was on the ground from the beginning, when it deployed its Disaster Welfare and Support Teams to provide assistance to Civil Defence Emergency Management in the days following the cyclone and severe weather events. The focus soon turned to providing grants to community organisations that had quickly mobilised to support people.
“We’ve distributed more than $14 million in grants to a range of organisations. These groups have been helping in a myriad of ways - from organising caravan accommodation to cleaning up homes to counselling services and providing baby supplies, and we’ve been able to help them continue doing their great work and to reach more people.”
A further $5.5 million has been committed to the Red Cross Home Bundles initiative, which is helping people with limited means to replace damaged furniture and other basic household items.
Sean Stewart, General Manager Emergency Management and International, says thousands of people are still waiting to return to their homes across the upper North Island, and many of these will struggle to replace what they’ve lost. “Our Home Bundles programme will provide households in need with new basic furniture, whiteware and other goods, so we can at least take this one worry off their list.”
The Fund has also supported Psychological First Aid (PFA) training for more than 600 people in Hawke's Bay, Tairāwhiti, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland and Northland. Stewart says sessions are designed to equip people who are assisting others to recognise distress and provide emotional and practical support. “These courses have been incredibly well received and are really helping fulfil an important role in post-disaster support.”
The Disaster Fund is now closed to new donations as New Zealand Red Cross focuses on spending the rest of the funds raised through the Home Bundles programme and investing in disaster preparedness. The entire Fund will be committed by the one-year anniversary of the cyclone in February.
“We’re incredibly grateful to all the people, businesses and community organisations who gave so generously to the Fund, and to our own Red Cross people who have given thousands of hours to help,” Stuart-Black says. “We have been able to achieve so much together.
“It takes a long time to recover from a disaster, and we’re pleased we have been able to help support people during these long and difficult months,” she says.
For a full breakdown on how the Fund has been spent including a list of community grants visit How the Fund is being spent.
Read about organisations that have received grant funding in our regular Fund updates.
For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the media line on 04 495 0139.