Snippets from the region - Summer 2019/20

New Zealand Red Cross staff and members are doing amazing work all over Aotearoa. Let’s look at what’s been happening in the regions.


Our Whangarei Disaster Welfare and Support Team (DWST) members and Humanitarian Development staff were involved in two Good and Ready events in October. An event organised by community group Finding the New Generation displayed Red Cross’ emergency response equipment. The next day a similar event took place at Whangarei Youth Space where local students discussed how to connect, care and prepare.

In November staff and volunteers attended a noho marae, strengthening existing networks at Paratene Te Manu-Ngunguru Marae during the weekend of activities.

In late September, Auckland’s Pathways to Settlement team co-hosted a dinner in Otara. Young people from local schools, youth leaders and Red Cross staff attended the event. The theme was ‘Creating a Community where everyone feels that they belong.’ 

Waikato/Bay of Plenty

The rollout of the Good and Ready project in Bay of Plenty was officially announced by National President Kerry Nickels in Tauranga at an end of year event, marking the beginning of an exciting journey for members eager be involved in community resilience and disaster preparedness. The event included hearing from Tauranga DWST and Katikati’s Community Relief Team (CRT) to help members get a better understanding of the role these teams play in emergency response.

The Hamilton Service Centre thanked volunteers for their amazing work at an event in November. “The volunteer event was a great success! We had volunteers from a number of programmes in attendance,” says Jenna Wetere, Humanitarian Development Engagement Manager. Delicious catering was provided by families who had been supported by Red Cross in the past and there were prizes donated by local companies who wanted to recognise the amazing work of volunteers. 

East Coast/Wairarapa

The Curtain Bank in Hawke’s Bay held a morning tea in November to acknowledge Janice Zachan as she steps down as coordinator after 11 years. Area Councillor Bonnie Plested will take up the role and Janice will continue to volunteer at the Curtain Bank. The event also marked the launch of a book outlining the Curtain Bank’s history. Since its inception in 2008, the Hawke’s Bay Curtain Bank has provided over 14,500 curtains to over 1,460 homes. All this work is achieved by a team of 17 volunteers.

Hastings Service Centre also hosted a fabulous Mistletoe Market in November. Red Cross members showed their support by selling knitwear, pet-themed door stoppers, dog collars, pet beds and artwork.

The Wairarapa Branch is ready to support the community of Masterton, alongside Connected Communities Wairarapa, when Masterton becomes a new settlement location in 2020. Wairarapa Service Centre and the Branch already work with Connecting Communities on the WeConnect programme, welcoming and assisting people new to the region. Members and staff also organised a stall at the recent Clareville A&P show to encourage new members to get involved and provide information around what it means to be a settlement location. 


Coastal Taranaki School in Okato have presented a Buddy Bench to Rahotu Primary School, with the support of their local New Zealand Red Cross Service Centre and the Taranaki Branch. The Buddy Bench is an outdoor seat that promotes social inclusion within the school community. The Taranaki Branch funded the building materials and are excited to support this youth initiative.

In Palmerston North, staff held an end of year event to thank volunteers. Nearly 150 people attended, including staff and members from Migration, Retail and the Palmerston North Book Sale. Shaun Greaves, General Manager Humanitarian Development, Angela Calkin-Goeres, General Manager Fundraising, Marketing, Communications (Acting) and Jamuna Rotstein, Disaster Readiness and Resilience Manager spoke at the event. There were also presentations from the DWST and local Migration team. Everyone enjoyed making connections and discussing their work with Red Cross. 


Wellington Service Centre, in partnership with the Wellington Area Council, held an International Volunteer Day event in November. The afternoon tea event was to thank volunteers from across the Wellington region, including members, event volunteers, DWST volunteers, refugee support volunteers and shop volunteers. It provided a fun way to thank our volunteers for all their hard work, while celebrating International Volunteer Day.


In early November, Jesse Bisch, Humanitarian Development Engagement Manager, worked with children attending Clued Up Kids, a multi-agency programme that teaches children confidence and life skills. Activities included practising what to do during an earthquake. The children also learned water safety, interacting with dogs and road safety.

Dedicated Red Cross volunteers recently gave their time to transfer household donations for former refugees into a smaller storage unit. A team of special-purpose volunteers regularly assist with the preparation of donated household goods the year. 

Canterbury/West Coast

Our team set up a ‘safety village’ at the Ashburton A & P Show in early November. This was supported by staff from across New Zealand Red Cross as well as DWST members helping at the event. The space also provided an opportunity to connect with other agencies in the community.

Our team in Timaru joined Aoraki Migrant Centre to host a shared meal at the Timaru Service Centre. The aim of the event was to get connect people within the local community, including recent arrivals and people from all backgrounds.

In Christchurch, several local staff and members met the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall as they paid respect to community members who responded to the March 15 attack. After speaking officially, Prince Charles took time to meet with individuals affected, expressing his sadness at events. In Kaikoura, the Duchess and Prince also met with the first responders of the November 2016 earthquake, including our own staff, DWST and members.


In Dunedin, graduates of the Open Road driver training programme celebrated their success at an event organised by the Service Centre. Twenty-seven clients graduated, with 17 achieving their full licence. Thirteen mentors worked with the graduates, some taking on two learners at one time.

The Dunedin Service Centre is also conducting a gardening tools drive to equip former refugee families to grow their own vegetables.

Winifred Harrex, a member of Mosgiel Branch and Meals on Wheels volunteer coordinator, has been recognised for 16 years of service. Cobgratulations, Winifred!

New Zealand Red Cross’ Young Humanitarians programme took place in Invercargill in September. Designed for young people aged 9-13, activities included an introduction to Red Cross, a presentation to help youth understand the refugee journey, learning basic first aid and disaster preparedness, a Meals on Wheels delivery and a visit to Peacehaven Rest Home. A barbecue was held to celebrate what everyone had learned together.