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

Taliban advance in Afghanistan

If contact has been lost with family members in Afghanistan please contact the Restoring Family Links team via the online form or by email at and we will call back as soon as possible.

In consideration of the rapidity of the Taliban advance throughout the country, the ICRC and Afghan Red Crescent are constantly reassessing their access and ability to carry RFL activities.

ICRC Kabul is carrying out assessments of the needs and the situation but the Afghan families separated following the fleeing of the country might increase in the days and weeks to come.

Families abroad might have difficulties to maintain contact with their families in Afghanistan.

In addition, the uncertainty of the destination of the moving population as well as the unclear situation of the separation in the country is for the time being, unpredictable. Nonetheless, RFL needs are expected to increase.

Regarding the evacuation of family members from Afghanistan, these are the recommended points of contact with the New Zealand government:

If the family member in Afghanistan is a New Zealand citizen

Contact should be made with MFAT Consular Services via

0800 30 10 30 or by emailing

If the family member in Afghanistan is a New Zealand Permanent Resident

Contact should be made with MFAT Consular Services via

0800 30 10 30 or by emailing

If the family member in Afghanistan has a connection to the operations of the New Zealand Defence Force in Afghanistan

MFAT have published guidance regarding the eligibility for Afghan nationals who assisted the New Zealand Defence Force or other government agencies during New Zealand’s deployment to Afghanistan to be considered for resettlement in New Zealand. Please visit here for more information.

If the family members in Afghanistan are neither New Zealand citizens or permanent residents

Contact should be made with Immigration New Zealand and visas must be applied for through the normal processes.

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