Restoring Family Links

Mātanga Whakaora Hononga Whānau

Have you been separated from family by war, disaster or migration? Red Cross might be able to help you.

Contact us


How can we help?

We may be able to help you:

  • find your family if they are missing as a result of war, disaster or migration through international family tracing
  • send a message to your family where there is no other way to contact them
  • check the welfare of your family overseas where you have lost communication unexpectedly and you are concerned for their health and wellbeing (including due to COVID-19)
  • by providing you with confirmation of detention if the International Committee of the Red Cross visited you in detention overseas.

Who can access our service?

We may be able to help you if:

  1. You live in New Zealand and have lost contact with family overseas AND
  2. The separation was due to war, disaster or migration

Our service is free of charge and confidential. We can provide an interpreter at no cost.

We support people of all genders, faiths and ethnicities.

We can't help with

Red Cross cannot accept requests when there is not enough information to conduct a search, when it is for genealogical research, or relates to legal matters like wills, child custody and adoption.

We do not help with family reunification or immigration matters.

Contact us

Call 0800 REDCROSS (0800 733 2767)


If you are a social service or other referring agency, please complete a referral form and forward to us via email

Contact us

International tracing

This service helps families in New Zealand find news of missing loved ones overseas where the separation was caused by war, armed conflict, disaster or migration. We cannot assist in immigration matters, family reunification, searches for genealogical reasons, cases of adoption to locate birth parents, or for the purposes of litigation. We are also not able to assist in situations where separation was caused by a relationship breakdown.

You must be residing in New Zealand to lodge a tracing case with New Zealand Red Cross. 

Lodge a request

Red Cross Messages

We help family members to communicate through Red Cross Messages when usual means of communication are not available.   Family members must have been separated by armed conflict, disaster or migration; or in some other cases of humanitarian need.  Messages may only contain personal family news and are subject to censorship. Photos may be attached, however no money may be attached.

Send a message

Health and Welfare reports

We can assist people whose contact with family members overseas has stopped unexpectedly, to check on their health and wellbeing.  We can do this when there are no other family members available to help.

Request a Health and Welfare report

Attestation of Detention Certificates

Attestation of Detention Certificates confirm that a person is being or has been detained. We can only provide these if the person was visited and registered by the ICRC while in detention. Certificates are only issued at the request of the person concerned or, if deceased, the next of kin.

Request an Attestation of Detention Certificate

International Committee of Red Cross travel documents

We can help people get ICRC travel documents if they have been formally offered entry by the New Zealand government.  We can assist refugees, displaced or stateless people who do not have documentation to travel to New Zealand, if they have an official request from Immigration New Zealand. We cannot help with immigration applications, advocate on behalf of family reunification applicants or contribute to travel costs. 

Enquire about ICRC travel documents


Download our Restoring Family Links info sheet and our referral form.

Current and past emergencies

Flooding in Germany and Belgium

  • The situation in the flood areas in West-Germany, in the federal states Rheinland-Pfalz and Nordrhein-Westfalen, since 15July has been dramatic. At least 143 people have lost their lives; more deaths are expected. There are numerous injured and evacuated in different places in Rheinland-Pfalz and Nordrhein-Westfalen. The internet and radio network does not work in some towns. Electricity and water supplies are interrupted.
  • The situation in the South and the East of Belgium, including the provinces of Liege, Luxembourg, Namur, Limbourg, Hainaut, and Brabant Wallon, is catastrophic following large-scale floods. At least 31 people have lost their lives and 127 are still missing. A large proportion of Wallonia has been flooded and rail services have been interrupted in the South of the country, as well as electricity, internet and water supplies in areas more intensively impacted.
  • In Germany more than 3,500 staff and volunteers of the German Red Cross were deployed, including rapid response support teams providing food and water services, air ambulance, flood fighting, patient transport/ambulance vehicles, registration services.
  • In Belgium, volunteers and staff of the Belgian Red Cross have been deployed, alongside members of the civil protection, police, and military personnel to provide support to the affected population.

For family in New Zealand: Both the German Red Cross and Belgian Red Cross are accepting tracing requests. Family in New Zealand should contact the New Zealand Red Cross Restoring Family Links (RFL) service on, via the online form at or call the Contact Centre on 0800 RED CROSS.

Tigray region, Ethiopia

For people in New Zealand who may be worried about family members in Tigray, Ethiopia, please contact the New Zealand Red Cross Restoring Family Links team on and we will respond as soon as possible. We can speak with you via interpreter if needed.

If the family member is believed to be missing as a result of the conflict we are able to send a tracing requests to ICRC Addis Ababa,  we are also sending tracing requests to send through to ICRC Khartoum (if family members are believed to have fled to Sudan). 

Non-conflict related cases will be sent to the Ethiopian Red Cross Society (ERCS).

COVID-19 (coronavirus)

The Restoring Family Links service may be able to assist people whose contact with family members overseas has recently stopped due to illness or infirmity, including COVID-19 (coronavirus), to check on their health and wellbeing. You can enquire here

Note that we ask you to contact your family member using your usual means of communications with them first, including by phone, email, social media or mutual family or other contacts in the foreign country, prior to engaging with this service.

Health and Welfare requests made to New Zealand Red Cross will be passed to the National Red Cross or Red Crescent Society in the country where the sought person is located. Please be aware that they may be under considerable pressure at this time -they may not accept the request or may take time to process your request, and may have limited capacity to access information about your family member. Health information is treated in confidence and will only be released with the consent of the sought person, or their next of kin.

You can make an enquiry to the Restoring Family Links service here.  

Our Restoring Family Links service has supported Kiwis during two of New Zealand's biggest emergencies, the Christchurch Terror Attacks and the Whakaari/White Island eruption