New Zealand Red Cross first teamed up with the Hurricanes Super Rugby team back in 2018. The partnership was the perfect pairing, as the way the Hurricanes hit the ground running on the field, we too at New Zealand Red Cross are one in the same — especially when on the frontline when disasters strike.

The support the Hurricanes have shown New Zealand Red Cross has been greatly welcome, making a positive impact on the work we do here in Aotearoa and abroad. Over the years, the team in yellow and black has backed Red Cross in many different ways.

Swapping boots for buckets

Welcoming Hurricanes players with a Powhiri at Red Cross House in Wellington.

After welcoming the team as part of the New Zealand Red Cross whānau at a Powhiri organised at Red Cross House in Wellington, some of the Hurricanes players quickly hung up their rugby boots in exchange for collection buckets.

Players braved the cold Wellington weather to fundraise during our annual Street Appeal collection—helping us fill our buckets with coins and notes to support our work in communities across the country and abroad.

It’s safe to say, the Hurricanes collectors raised new interest for our cause among Wellingtonians, helping us increase awareness in the region, one bucket at a time. 

New Zealand Red Cross street collectors with Hurricanes players: Jeff Toomaga-Allen (left) and Ardie Savea (right)

In December 2019, Samoa was struck by a Measles outbreak. New Zealand Red Cross supported Samoa Red Cross’ response to the epidemic by sending 10 health delegates and two psychosocial support delegates. This help provided an additional resource to an already distressed health system, assisting with the mass vaccination campaign, and covering roles within the community and hospital.

This heartbreaking moment in Samoa moved the whole country, including the Hurricanes, who quickly set up an online fundraising page on GiveaLittle and welcomed Red Cross collectors at various rugby games to raise much needed funds for our Pacific neighbours.

A window of opportunity

Earlier this year, as the world was shaken to its core following the COVID-19 global pandemic, the Hurricanes were quick to set up another Givealittle fundraising page supporting NewZealand Red Cross’ response to COVID-19.  In just a few weeks the team managed to raise nearly $2,000 through the page.  

The Hurricanes’ support during COVID-19 didn’t stop there. The team also kindly donated warm beanies, which were included in our Red Cross Parcels. The parcels were distributed to vulnerable Kiwis in June 2020, following the COVID-19 nationwide lockdown. Each parcel contained essential items including, food, hygiene items, wellbeing resources and blankets. The beanies were an excellent addition to the parcels, especially for those cold winter nights.

For six-year-old Johan and his 1-year-old sister Wikitoria, they received not one but two beanies in their Red Cross Parcel. The two of them had the opportunity to wear them at the Hurricanes’ live home game in August 2020 — perfect for the windy Wellington weather.

Johan, 6, wearing his warm Hurricanes beanie

An experience to remember

As New Zealand moved back into COVID-19 Alert Level 2 and 1, life slowly went back to ‘normal’. Cafés and restaurants began opening up and more importantly sports started back up again, including one of many Kiwis’ favourite pastimes, rugby.

It was another cold and windy Wellington night, when one-by-one the Hurricanes players stepped foot onto the freshly cut grass, which hadn’t been played on for several months. Supporters began to scream and shout from every stall in the stadium. The excitement was evident, as the Super Rugby season was nearing towards the end.

For some attendees, they were about to witness their first ever rugby game. The rush of adrenaline one gets on their first live experience can’t be replicated — it’s a once in a lifetime feeling.

Thanks to the generosity of the Hurricanes, individuals and families from a refugee background were able to have the opportunity to attend the game and experience their first live rugby match.

Jian, 24 years old, came to New Zealand under the refugee quota in January 2020 and Dahir, 33 years old, fled Somalia and sought refuge in Indonesia before arriving to Aotearoa in March 2020. Jian and Dahir were among some of the attendees.

“I liked it. This was the first time I went to the stadium and I would definitely go again,” says Jian.

"I really enjoyed it and liked the game because it was my first time watching a rugby game. Thank you Hurricanes for the opportunity,” says Dahir.

It’s fair to say, the Hurricanes gained a few new fans that night.

Jian capturing the atmosphere at the Hurricanes live game

True to form, the Hurricanes also provided a collection opportunity for New Zealand Red Cross. Hurricanes players, including Ben May, Vince Aso and James Blackwell filmed a short video encouraging fans to show their support for Red Cross—by donating on their way into the game.

“We are so grateful for the creative ways in which the Hurricanes choose to support us and their willingness to also help with our campaigns and programmes. It means a lot to have such a helpful and high profile partner who is happy to help wherever possible and is so effective at connecting new audiences with our work,” says Niamh Lawless, New Zealand Red Cross Secretary General.

Left to right—Vince Aso, James Blackwell and Ben May

Kia ora Hurricanes for your generous support over the past few years. Ka pai team!