As an organisation that is driven by a network of more than 11,000 volunteers across the country, New Zealand Red Cross recognises the value of having such selfless individuals committed to serve their community.

“Our pool of volunteers is critical to our organisation. The most recent example of this is our Red Cross volunteers being part of the response effort, providing support to people affected by the tornado in Auckland over the weekend and the severe weather affecting some parts of the country this week,” says New Zealand Red Cross Secretary General, Sarah Stuart-Black.

“We are truly grateful to have passionate and compassionate volunteers helping us bring assistance to where the need is greatest. They are the ones making it possible for us to respond to disasters, settle new Kiwis, deliver Meals on Wheels, run our shops, and so much more,” she adds.

Red Cross volunteers, Dave and Jenny, with the former refugee family they've helped settle in Nelson.

Over the past year, with the support of volunteers, New Zealand Red Cross has been able to:

  • Assist nearly 13,000 people on temporary visas who were stuck in New Zealand due to COVID- 19 through our Visitor Care Manaaki Manuhiri programme
  • Support 217 former refugees as they adjusted to life in New Zealand
  • Respond to 19 calls for disaster response team activations to help people affected by crises like the Lake Ōhau fire, Canterbury floods and the tornado in Auckland
  • Reach around 2,200 people with emergency preparedness messaging through our Good and Ready programme
  • Deliver meals to nearly 20,000 people who rely on our Meals on Wheels service
  • Support around 6,000 households impacted by COVID-19 with Red Cross Parcels
  • Give some privacy and warmth to disadvantaged families in 325 homes by providing them with curtains through our Curtain Banks
  • Divert approximately 1.8 million items from going to the landfill by giving them a new lease of life through our Red Cross Shops
  • Reach 4,000 volunteer hours for our nationwide 2021 Red Cross Appeal street collection

Red Cross volunteer, Janice, delivering a hot meal to someone who relies on the Meals on Wheels service.

This year also marks the 70th anniversary of New Zealand Red Cross’ Meals on Wheels programme. In June 1951, this programme had its humble beginnings in North Canterbury where Red Cross volunteers started preparing and distributing soup for people in need during a gas, coal and electricity shortage. Supporting this at the time was a local butcher who supplied the initiative with all the bones and meat for the soup, free of charge, and a local café owner who kindly offered his service to cook the stock.

“This milestone is one of the many testaments of the central role volunteers play within Red Cross. What started as a simple act of kindness from a few community volunteers seven decades ago has now become one of the cornerstones of Red Cross across Aotearoa,” says Sarah Stuart-Black.

Media contact

For more information, or to set up interviews with Red Cross volunteers in different areas around Aotearoa, please contact our Communications Advisor, Heidi Anicete, on  027 365 8210 or