Fostering community connection after a disaster

1 June 2023

Fortnightly update 7: New Zealand Disaster Fund

We’ve been delivering dozens of clean-up kits and made grants to support mental health, volunteers working in rural communities, doctor’s visits and many other activities.

Mates4Life offer kai and kōrero for better mental health  

Mates4Life is a suicide awareness and prevention programme run by the Mates of Hawke’s Bay Charitable Trust. Set up in late 2021, they’ve rolled out their programmes to nearly 2,000 people across a wide range of industries in the Hawke’s Bay region. Working though workplaces and other organisations, they’ve been able to break down barriers and open vital conversations on mental health and suicide prevention. 

Mates4Life have been busy providing support to workplaces, communities, organisations and whānau across Hawke’s Bay since the Cyclone. They have received a $200,000 grant to help them continue this work. The grant will also support a new initiative called ‘Kai and Kōrero’ specifically for workplaces and communities affected by Cyclone Gabrielle.  

Programme co-ordinator Bronnie Coory said Mates4Life were very grateful for the grant. “The grant from Red Cross is going to allow us to increase our resources and bring on more facilitators to help us to deliver more of our workshops as well as our Kai and Kōrero initiative.”  

Through their Kai and Kōrero initiative they take a BBQ trailer to a workplace, cook them breakfast, and have important conversations about mental health. These sessions have connected people across a number of organisations, including those who are working on the disaster response every day. 

“For example, last week we did a Kai and Kōrero session in Rissington, a badly affected area where a lot of civil contractors are working. We cooked them breakfast and then we talked to them about checking in on their mates, looking after themselves and doing things that make them feel good and positive,” said Bronnie. 

So far, they have fed over 900 people with their Kai and Kōrero sessions across the Bay. 
“We provide these workshops and Kai and Kōrero for free. So the funding we get from New Zealand Red Cross and others enables us to have these no barrier conversations, we never want money to be a barrier for supporting mental health. We rely on donations and sponsorship to help us achieve this,” said Bronnie.  

Evergreen Foundation keeping communities connected 

When Cyclone Gabrielle first rolled through Hawke’s Bay, the Evergreen Foundation quickly began distributing food and goods through relief flights to cut-off rural areas. They’ve continued to support rural communities across Hawke’s Bay through initiatives like community connectivity events. 

Brendan O’Sullivan, Evergreen Foundation trustee, said that the Christchurch earthquake showed connectivity with neighbours was very important. “We’ve contributed to many events for mental wellness. The get-togethers are about keeping an eye on each other, having some enjoyment and solving problems together.”  

Evergreen has also been helping volunteers of the Hawke’s Bay Clean Up Crew. 

“They’ve got these volunteers that have been working since it happened, some are semi-retired, from out-of-town, and they turn up to clean and help remove silt, cut back their gib board, and spray product to stop mould in the framing timber. Then they will often have a cup of tea with people whose homes have been impacted, and it’s really great to provide a human connection in their time of need,” said Brendan.  

These volunteers have been helping out for months now, and Evergreen is doing what it can to keep this work going – especially as winter is just around the corner. They’ve provided the clean-up team with a ute, storage containers with secure shelving to keep their tools in, fuel, and hire equipment so they can get more done.   

“That’s the biggest thing that we’ve done with Red Cross and other agencies, is keep some momentum up for these volunteers that are doing tremendous work by giving them the tools to do more and feel supported. That’s what we’ve done together,” said Brendan. 

Community partners like the Evergreen Foundation are a vital part of how the New Zealand Disaster Fund is helping affected communities.  

“We’re a small charity, and you can see all this opportunity to help. Some of that is bigger than our means, so we really appreciated the Red Cross standing alongside us. It’s a great partnership,” said Brendan. 

Baderdrive Doctors visit flood-affected homes 

A $160,000 grant from the New Zealand Disaster Fund will help medical professionals make home visits to households affected by the severe weather events in Auckland to offer support to prevent health issues from escalating.   

The Baderdrive Doctors clinic is in the heart of the South Auckland suburb of Māngere, which was hit hard by flooding in January. Staff knew that many of their patients had been affected and started using the linked Baderdrive Community Trust to do outreach health checks.   

Baderdrive Community Trust’s Esmay Mulipola said the financial pressure of recovering from a disaster is affecting the health of their patients, the majority of whom are Samoan. The demands on resources for repairs, replacing belongings, and temporary accommodation added on top of ongoing costs like mortgages means families are often living in unsuitable conditions and making tough choices – especially when it comes to health.  

Esmay said they try to keep doctors’ fees to a minimum. “But even $19 for an adult to come and see us – it’s $19, or do my kids eat this week, or do I put it towards the mortgage? So coming in to see the doctor drops further and further down the list until it gets to the point where they end up in the emergency department because they just don’t have the money to come in to see the doctor for something that could have been easily fixed.” In winter, asthma and respiratory illnesses are a particular concern she said.  

The grant from the New Zealand Disaster Fund will help a team – including a doctor, a nurse, an administrator, and a social worker – continue to visit families for medical checks and help organise medications from the pharmacy attached to the clinic. The team is also planning to use the funds to offer additional assistance, like hiring skip bins for families that haven’t been able to clear hazardous waste, purchasing equipment that can help dry out homes, and easing household costs like replacing flood-damaged school uniforms.   

By the numbers  

The New Zealand Disaster Fund is being allocated across three programmes of work: 

  1. The Response and Recovery Programme supported our immediate response on the ground and will also be funding a range of longer-term recovery initiatives. At this stage, approximately $10 million has been budgeted for this programme.  
  2. The Partnership Grants Programme provides grants to community organisations supporting community response and recovery. At this stage, approximately $10 million has been budgeted for this programme.
  3. The Investment programme is focused on better preparing for future events. At this stage, approximately $5 million has been budgeted for this programme.  

The amounts budgeted for each programme may go up or down as needs change. 
Total committed funds across all programmes: $8.9 million
Total donations: $25 million

Note: Figures provided are as accurate as possible as at 31 May given the rapid nature of grant allocation. Figures may change slightly in our annual reporting as we complete our audit process. 

Partnership Grants Programme 

Providing grants to community organisations and other entities supporting community response and recovery.  

Total approximate spent or committed: $7.64 million 
Total Community Support Grants approved: 71 grants  
Total Community Enable Grants approved: 37 grants  
Total grant applications received: 269  
Approximate programme budget: $10 million 

Entities supported in the last two weeks include*: 

  • Age Concern Napier – food, clothing bedding and temporary accommodation for older people – $50,000 
  • Ahuriri Tributaries Catchment Group Trust – seminar evenings for community wellbeing – $8,300 
  • Akerama Marae – repair wharekai, remove debris, and replace chiller – $31,997 
  • Ascende Global Trust – clean up assistance and providing food and hygiene products – $37,000 
  • Baderdrive Community Trust – doctors doing home visits to affected families in Mangere – $160,000 
  • Barnados New Zealand – supporting mental wellbeing of affected children – $65,918 
  • Barnados New Zealand – survival kits and food vouchers for families – $30,000 
  • Basketball HB – subsidy for affected communities – $15,000 
  • Buzzy Bee Trust – mental health and community wellbeing – $7,500 
  • Citizens Advice Bureau Napier Inc – community support – $10,000 
  • Debt Relief Foundation – increase capacity to respond to affected communities – $70,000 
  • Diocese of Waiapu, Taradale Anglican Church – community clean up – $20,000 
  • Epic Ministries Inc – repairing damaged homes – $105,250 
  • Esk Valley Hub – community clean up – $50,000 
  • Gisborne District Council – emergency response stretchers – $65,520 
  • Hastings Hibernian Sports Club – community wellbeing – $3,000 
  • Heart Psychological Assessment & Treatment Services Ltd/ HEART Collective – professional mental health and wellbeing support – $50,000 
  • Heretaunga Women's Centre – counselling for vulnerable women – $53,260 
  • Hookmade Ltd – clean up crews and related expenses – $70,000 
  • Karekare Surf Lifesaving Club Inc – generator – $30,758 
  • KiwiHarvest – food support – $50,000 
  • Ko Wai Tōu Ingoa Hauora Charitable Trust – community meals and transport – $5,000 
  • Mana Mentoring Youth & Community Trust – helping whānau deal with mental health challenges – $50,000 
  • Maraenui Rugby & Sports Association Incorporated – restoring club operations and reinstating activities – $25,000 
  • Matakohe Community Group – generators – $3,000 
  • Mates of Hawke’s Bay Charitable Trust – free mental health programmes – $200,000 
  • MSFT Productions – community wellbeing events – $60,000 
  • Mt Erin Group Ltd – clean up tools and mental health support for apple growers - $20,000 
  • Napier Family Centre – family and wellbeing support – $100,000 
  • Napier Free Kindergarten Association – emotional wellbeing for teachers and tamariki – $21,130 
  • Napier Meats Limited – providing food to the community – $40,000 
  • Nga Purapura Watene Mauri O Te Roopu Kotahi Incorporated – food parcels, household care packs, hygiene kits, access to temporary water – $50,000 
  • Ngati Kere Pōrangahau Flood Response – temporary housing and food for displaced community – $50,000 
  • Nurturing Families – assistance for affected families – $48,000 
  • NZ Limited Licence LTD – community clean up – $45,000 
  • Omaha Marae Trust – building repairs, replacing mattresses, and water filtration system – $50,000 
  • Petāne Marae – clean up mobilisation and provisions for affected whānau – $39,364 
  • Pōrangahau Sports Club – safe service hub – $40,000
  • REEMI – menstrual products – $25,000 
  • Student Volunteer Army – disaster response related expenses – $100,000 
  • Takahiwai Marae Committee – emergency response equipment – $10,000 
  • Tamatea Rugby & Sports Club Inc. – clubroom has been used to house displaced whanau from Waiohiki – $50,000 
  • Tangoio Marae – marae and community support – $30,000 
  • Te Iwi o Rakaipaaka Inc – wananga for whānau – $50,000 
  • Te Ngati Hinewera Trust – repairing homes – $12,000 
  • Te Poho o Hinemihi Marae – accommodation, water filtration, food, clothing, and storage – $50,000 
  • Te Rima Ōrau – mental wellbeing and future preparedness – $7,000 
  • The Evergreen Foundation – clean-up assistance in rural areas – $300,000 
  • The Key to Life Charitable Trust – free counselling for affected youth and young people – $167,360 
  • Tiniroto Community and Te Reinga Marae – septic tank cleaning – $20,432 
  • Toha Foundry Limited – community recovery fundings – $120,000 
  • Visionwest Community Trust – counselling and trauma support services – $49,500 
  • Wainui School Friends of Wainui Community Group – school counselling in affected rural communities – $14,875 
  • Waiwhare Community Centre Incorporated – community assistance to farmers – $15,000
  • Whakatokia te Pura Pura – food parcels for flood-affected families – $50,000  

*Some grants approved in this fortnight do not appear in this list as the recipient has yet to be notified.

See the full list of entities that we have supported so far  

Response and Recovery Programme 

Supporting our immediate response on the ground and funding a range of longer-term recovery initiatives.  

Total approximate spent or committed: $1.2 million
Approximate programme budget: $10 million  

  • Red Cross response: Disaster Welfare and Support Team travel and equipment to support local Civil Defence Emergency Management Group requirements. Free Psychological First Aid training to 402 people in 29 courses.  
  • Equipment: Includes generators, dehumidifiers, 750 clean up kits, first aid kits and other items relating to emergency accommodation and other community needs. 

    Since February, we’ve been distributing clean-up kits to households and communities to help make the hard work of cleaning up a little easier. The kits might include water blasters, wet and dry vacuums, shovels, brooms, protective clothing, dust masks, gloves and other items. So far, we’ve distributed 750 kits to affected areas. 

See the full list of entities we have supported so far 

Investment Programme 

Preparing communities for future disasters and emergencies.  

Total approximate spent or committed: $- 
Approximate programme budget: $5 million 

New grant applications now paused 

Thank you to all the community groups and other organisations that have engaged with us so far to help support affected communities.  

The Fund attracted a very large number of applications, especially in the last few weeks. It’s likely applications received so far will exhaust the grant funding available at this stage.

As a result, we paused the grants process for new applications on Thursday 25 May.

Learn more 

We’ve been around for nearly 100 years. As the impacts of climate change increase the frequency and severity of weather-related emergencies across the country, we’ll keep being here. 

The New Zealand Disaster Fund helps us to support communities to respond to, recover from, and prepare for disasters and emergencies in Aotearoa New Zealand. 

New Zealand Disaster Fund hub

If you want to stay up-to-date on how the New Zealand Disaster Fund is making a difference you can register for email updates. 

Sign up for regular updates about the New Zealand Disaster Fund (

Practical support and information to help you care for yourself and others after the recent flooding and Cyclone Gabrielle. 

Caring for yourself and others after an emergency or disaster

Volunteer with us 

We can’t do our work without the thousands of Kiwis from all corners of Aotearoa New Zealand who give their time and energy to volunteer.   

We’re always on the lookout for dedicated people to join us in our humanitarian work. Join over 8,000 other humanitarians in New Zealand and volunteer today.

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Red Cross in your community 

New Zealand Red Cross is part of your community. We have 16 offices around New Zealand including our head office in Wellington. You can join your local branch, group in over 40 cities and towns around New Zealand, or shop at one of our 50 retail stores. 

Map of Red Cross locations 

New Zealand Red Cross has 15 ‘areas’ across the country. Each area has its own area council, which is elected by the local Red Cross members. 

About our area councils  

There are nearly 50 branches of New Zealand Red Cross around the country. Branches have a hands-on local-community focus, and are run by volunteers. 

About our branches 

Find out more about what we do in New Zealand  

What we do in New Zealand 

Support our work 

Our emergency management work is funded through the generosity of donors. 

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Lead photo: Delivering more clean-up kits to Te Karaka this week. This group of willing volunteers is helping clean up flood-damaged homes in their community and now have more tools to get the job done. Kits can contain a range of things including shovels, brooms, gloves, overalls, tarps, dust masks and other useful clean-up items. So far New Zealand Red Cross has delivered more than 750 kits to cyclone and flood affected homes, buildings and marae as part of our Response and Recovery Programme.