What's important to us and our work – the value in our values

6 May 2024

As we celebrate all Red Cross people on World Red Cross Red Crescent Day this year, we asked, what are the values of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, shared by New Zealand Red Cross, and why should we care about them?

Secretary-General Sarah Stuart-Black and Fiona Ross – General Manager People Experience and Support Fiona explain.

How do the values work with our Fundamental Principles?

Our Mission is to improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilising the power of humanity and enhancing community resilience.

The Fundamental Principles set the foundation for all the work we do to achieve the mission. They help us decide what we do and guide how that work will be carried out.

Our values are much more about what is important to us in how we work to achieve the mission.

Together the Fundamental Principles and the values inform us about the behaviours we want to encourage as we work to achieve our mission. You can find many of these behaviours outlined in our Code of Conduct.

How important it is to New Zealand Red Cross to have a set of underpinning values – to be a values-based organisation?

It’s widely known that people are now wanting to engage with purpose driven organisations. We're fortunate to have Fundamental Principles and values that help drive our purpose and what's important to us. People wanting to come and volunteer or become an employee at New Zealand Red Cross will look to see what's important for the organisation, and how our culture reflects that.

How does living these values contribute to our core mission?

If we live these values, we'll all ultimately help to create an organisational culture that's aligned with — and supports the achievement of — an organisation’s strategy, in our case Strategy 2030, and our mission. Ultimately an ‘organisational culture’ is about the behaviours we want to encourage – because we believe those behaviours will best help serve the achievement of mission and vision.

Do you see these values in action in our people every day – can you give examples?


The value is about the ways we work in our own capacity to work in solidarity, and to work as part of a community. One of the best ways we've found to do this is by asking questions and listening to the replies of others. Sometimes it’s not even about asking questions but just leaving the space for someone to speak and for us to listen to that. We learn so much from this listening, about what's really important for the person. Solidarity can then come when we can help that person achieve what's important to them.


This value underpins all other values and our Fundamental Principles. This is about doing the right thing every time, no matter how hard or challenging that is. This is important for us personally and for us organisationally to do what we say we’ll do and be transparent, open, and accountable. It’s about building and maintaining trust and confidence within our organisation, by the public, and media about what we stand for as New Zealand Red Cross and as a Movement.


Across New Zealand Red Cross we've been working to emphasise how we live this value, working on a diversity, equity and inclusion policy and carrying out surveys and focus groups into how we currently experience diversity at New Zealand Red Cross. Personally, we love seeing how people across the organisation celebrate and explore how others experience the world, whether that's celebrating with food or learning about others cultural practices, experiences, and perspectives on the world.


This gets us thinking about the work taking place over the last year or so in building a partnership with the Student Volunteer Army. We're super keen through this developing partnership to find ways to engage more young people in our voluntary activity. Then through that, attract them to joining New Zealand Red Cross because they want to be connected to a great humanitarian organisation.

How do we work with that partnership in mind? It’s really about asking questions to see where we can meet together to fulfil our purpose and values, and to take an approach of experimenting and testing how and where we work together. We could summarise that as taking a focused approach to what we want to achieve, but an open-minded approach to how we get there.


All of us at Red Cross have a leadership role to play when it comes to assisting and supporting vulnerable communities. We see examples of our volunteers working with communities in an emergency, working as part of a wider team, asking questions and following up on what they can do better and learn for future emergencies. Or in their work on Meals on Wheels, for example, volunteers take leadership by being aware of the community they're delivering meals to, highlighting risks and issues and opportunities for improvement.  We also see leadership as teams, thinking through how we can live our mission better, and work as part of one team to share those thoughts and try new ideas.


Sometimes this is our day-to-day focus! Taking almost every opportunity to understand how we do things the way we do, why we do that, and seeking to make improvements where we can. There are different types of innovation to us – the small incremental changes to how we do things, and the bigger more system-wide shifts we're trying to make. We love an innovative mindset, that respects the past and how we did it, but always queries what could be better for now and the future, and what's a pragmatic way to get there so everyone can be on board.

A whakatauki that captures the spirit of the values:

Mā te huruhuru ka rere te manu

Adorn the bird with feathers so it may soar.

Whether you are young or old, there’s always room to grow.

Learning a new skill, solving problems, and helping others are just some of the many 'feathers' you can wear in order to soar high. The more strengths you have, the higher you’ll fly!

Who creates an organisational culture?

All of us – because our collective behaviour and experience will influence the way we do things around here, such as our actual culture. However, in terms of establishing a culture, nurturing and driving it — especially the positives — that’s down to leadership supporting that culture and helping us to achieve it. That’s why both the Fundamental Principles and Value are so important.

How is the leadership of New Zealand Red Cross, and its Strategy 2030, aiming to make the values more visible and central to our work?

This is an area we really do have to work on. We've done a lot about the Fundamental Principles and have to keep working on our collective understanding and use of those. What we're keen to do now is also to start sharing our values and encourage discussion about what they mean for what’s important to us and how they shape how we work with one another, and those we give service to.

What work is being done to encourage Red Cross people to live our values?

Values are something we encourage people to understand, discuss and explore. Everyone has a role to play as our collective behaviour and experience influences what it's like to be involved with or engage with New Zealand Red Cross. Employees have the values embedded into their performance and development plans, so that they can focus on values that are especially important to them or their work. We’ve also been working with the National Board and Area Chairs on our mission, Fundamental Principles and values to determine the sort of behaviours we really want to encourage, for example being one Red Cross team.

Our values, and behaviours, are also captured in our Code of Conduct, which is a great document to look over from time to time.

Do these values help create our vision of 'one Red Cross people'?

Absolutely. The values help inform the behaviours we want to positively promote and encourage. As one Red Cross team they encourage us to recognise and celebrate success, to focus on collectively delivering our mission and to emphasise how we work together and have fun doing so, for example.  

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