Responding to disasters and crises

In times of natural disasters, conflict and emergencies, Red Cross responds to the needs of vulnerable people around the world.

What we do

The New Zealand Red Cross is part of the largest humanitarian network in the world, reaching 150 million people in 190 countries, through the work of 13 million volunteers. The strength of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement is in our volunteer network, our community-based expertise, our global response tools and our ability to give vulnerable people a voice. The Red Cross Red Crescent Movement is not only present during disasters. We also strive to build safe, resilient communities that are better able to withstand disasters and crises.

In times of disaster, conflict and emergency, based on our Fundamental Principles we assist people in a neutral and impartial manner. This means we offer help to everyone who needs it, regardless of cultural, religious or political affiliations.

Our current activities

Aid workers travel to areas affected by conflict

As part of international responses, our aid workers are deployed on the frontline through the International Committee of the Red Cross to assist people affected by conflict.

Aid workers travel to areas affected by disasters, and other emergencies to support local teams

Our aid workers are highly skilled. Their areas of expertise include disaster management, emergency health and medicine, water and sanitation, shelter, information technology, and communications.

We maintain warehouses and emergency relief supplies

We support emergency responses, both in New Zealand and overseas, with goods such as tarpaulins, water containers, tools and shelter kits. We maintain a number of warehouses within New Zealand with the largest located close to the Auckland airport. This location, together with our excellent logistics team, ensures we can dispatch equipment and relief supplies quickly. During disasters, the supplies are sent for immediate distribution by Pacific Red Cross societies.

Items in the warehouse are shipped out quickly in an emergency

The IT and Telecommunications Emergency Response Unit (ERU)

New Zealand Red Cross maintains an Information Technology and Telecommunications Emergency Response Unit, which is one of five teams globally. This specialist team travels to disaster-affected areas, to restore IT and telecommunication systems, as a first-responder. This means that teams coming in afterwards are able to communicate properly and coordinate their efforts and logistics. The Emergency Response Unit team travelled to Nepal in 2015 after the devastating earthquake there, setting up satellite communications and VHF radio.

Safe water supplies

Accessing safe water is a significant challenge following many disasters, including cyclones, earthquakes and droughts. Red Cross specialists are available to travel with water treatment equipment to affected areas at short notice.

Pacific preparedness

New Zealand Red Cross helps Pacific Red Cross society staff and volunteers prepare for disasters. We support emergency response training activities and partner in disaster simulation exercises.

Disaster recovery

Following the devastating effects of Cyclone Pam and Cyclone Winston in the Pacific, in 2015 and 2016, New Zealand Red Cross has contributed to rebuilding community infrastructure, housing, and water systems. Based on our experience in recovery after the Christchurch earthquakes, we’ve worked closely with our Pacific partners on a psychosocial programme to help affected people recover.

Regional migration

We have recently seen a rise in the scale of global migration and the refugee crisis. New Zealand Red Cross is the lead refugee resettlement agency in New Zealand. We contribute to the global policy debate and support Red Cross internationally, assisting vulnerable migrants and refugees in the Asia-Pacific region.

We've recently sent relief supplies and/or aid workers to

  • Fiji – Tropical Cyclone Winston (2016)
  • South Sudan, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Gaza, Lebanon, Myanmar – ICRC (2016)
  • Nepal – Earthquake (2015)
  • Vanuatu and the Pacific - Cyclone Pam (2015)
  • West Africa – Ebola response (2014-2015)
  • Philippines - Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda (2014)