cross birth

New Zealand Red Cross

The New Zealand Red Cross was created by nurse Harriet Carpenter in 1914 shortly after the beginning of World War I generally for the purpose of responding to natural disasters or man-made disasters and also helping out vulnerable or needy people both in New Zealand and abroad.

The organization is the largest of its kind in the world and the New Zealand Red Cross is just one of the 186 Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies worldwide that make up the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The movement comprises over 97 million volunteers worldwide and prides itself on being free of government influence and without political, religious or cultural bias.

The New Zealand Red Cross supports and runs many different and important projects whilst raising awareness to the New Zealand public about the current issues or problems which may affect them. Some of the projects which are either run by or assisted by the New Zealand Red Cross are Blood Services, First Aid projects, Disaster and Emergency Services, Youth and Education.


When World War I broke out in 1914, Harriet Carpenter, head nurse of the Wellington City Hospital, began an operation in New Zealand to raise money for the military and servicemen heading overseas, to provide such things as Medical Supplies and "Home Comforts" in the battlefield. The groups were then invited by the Governor General to visit Government House in March 1915. They heard an important new proposal: to join together under the banner of Red Cross. Later that year a resolution was passed and the New Zealand Branch of the British Red Cross and Order of St John was created.

When, in 1931 a massive earthquake struck Napier. Within hours equipment and personnel of the Peacetime Division was assembled and dispatched to the disaster zone.

Later in the same year the New Zealand Red Cross Society Incorporated was formed and was later recognised in 1932 by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The story of the Red Cross' birth in New Zealand has been recorded in detail by Meryl Lowrie.

New Zealand Red Cross Detachments

These are just some of the places where the 'New Zealand Red Cross have sent volunteers and supplies for various disasters and conflicts. The traditional areas of activity by the New Zealand Red Cross are Asia and Africa although new regions require the Red Cross' assistance, particularly since 1990 include Europe (eg former Yugoslavia), Central Asia (e.g. Tadjikistan) and the Caucasus (e.g. Chechnya). In many of these countries ethnic conflict and societal collapse have resulted in millions requiring external assistance (i.e. Red Cross assistance from not only New Zealand but organizations from all over the globe.)

Here are a few of the countries the New Zealand Red Cross have contributed aid and civil assistance to since its formation:Middle East





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