Red Cross volunteer helps a Christchurch resident after the February earthquake. Photo: NZ Red Cross

Though they’re critical during and after disasters, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and non-profits play important roles in social life at other times, too.

[Editor’s note: Matador is participating in this week’s #blog4NZ event, which is intended to raise travelers’ awareness about New Zealand.]

Here’s a quick guide to some of the on-the-ground organizations in New Zealand.

International Organizations with a Local Presence

Lions Club:
The Lions Club claims to be the world’s largest service club organization, with 45,000+ chapters (or “clubs”) and 1.35 million members globally. Best known for their public health work, especially the ongoing vision and sight projects they sponsor, including the collection of eyeglasses, the organization also mobilizes members for acute disaster response.

New Zealand’s Lions Club chapters and a description of the varied projects they sponsor can be found on this page.

Oxfam New Zealand:
Oxfam’s principal purpose is to “end poverty and injustice,” and the organization’s New Zealand branch focuses on helping “people to access safe water and sanitation, to build a sustainable livelihood, to provide education for their children and to live free from violence.”

Upcoming events include the “Oxfam Trailwalker,” an outdoor endurance event that doubles as a fund raiser to support the organization’s work.

New Zealand Red Cross:
Perhaps the world’s most recognizable non-profit, the Red Cross is typically a first-responder in disaster situations, but it also sponsors many other programs and projects, primarily related to public health and safety.

The New Zealand Red Cross provides school breakfasts for children whose families cannot afford the meal; “Meals on Wheels” (a food delivery program for homebound people); and refugee, community, and public health support services.

Rotary International:
Rotary, like the Lions Club, is an international service organization whose members organize service projects in their local communities. Rotarians, as the organization’s members are known, often collaborate with other major service organizations to support larger projects, especially in disaster response situations.

In response to the Christchurch earthquake, Rotary has collected and distributed donations; organized respite accommodations for its members affected by the quake; and started a “caravan loan.”

Salvation Army:
The Salvation Army, a charitable organization that is part of the worldwide evangelical Christian church, has been in New Zealand since 1883, and like its branches around the world, the New Zealand Salvation Army provides services to anyone who needs them, regardless of religious affiliation.

Those services include: “food assistance, budgeting advice, like skills training, counselling, crisis and supportive accommodation, addiction services (drug, alcohol and problem gambling), chaplaincy support, employment training, chaplaincy, emergency services, and youth work.”

Maori girls.. Photo: dicimijo

Save the Children New Zealand:
As its name suggests, Save the Children‘s work is focused on children. The organization supports children’s rights by providing direct services and interventions at the community level, as well as by influencing policy at the national and international levels.

In New Zealand, particular projects focus on “addressing the effects of domestic violence on children; respecting the rights of and listening to the opinion of Maori; including young people in discussions about climate change; giving young people a voice in national and local government; and teaching about diversity in schools.”

**Other international service and aid organizations with local chapters can be found in this list, compiled by the Council for International Development.

Local Organizations

Christchurch Methodist City Mission:
John Reese, one of the founders of #Blog4NZ, mentioned that this organization has had a strong presence in responding to the February earthquake. Its services have become more important over the past month, but like many church-based social service programs, CMCM plays a vital role in its local community on a day-to-day basis. The non-profit runs a food bank and a shelter for homeless/displaced people, and provides case management services, including drug and alcohol counseling and budgeting lessons.

Federated Farmers:
New Zealand’s “leading rural advocacy organization,” Federated Farmers seeks to influence policy related to farming. The organization also mobilizes during and after disasters, recognizing that events like earthquakes, droughts, and floods can cause a loss of livelihood for farmers. The organization provides direct support and referrals for farmers in need of financial and/or psychological and emotional intervention in such situations.

LifeLine:
LifeLine is a free-of-charge telephone hotline whose operators are trained counselors who provide support to callers who are in crisis, as well as those who just need someone to talk with about their problems or feelings. The organization also has an email counseling service.

The Peace Foundation:
The Peace Foundation, recommended by Matador contributor Marie Szamborski, “promotes peaceful relationships among people of all ages, at all levels, through education, research and action.” Much of the organization’s work is centered in schools, where it teaches students conflict mediation and resolution skills.

Puketi Forest Trust – Oho Mai Puketi:
Long-time Matador member and Kiwi Craig Martin says this organization has done “a lot to cull foreign pests, such as rats, stoats and possums which are killing New Zealand’s strange and wonderful native flora and fauna.

Volunteers tag birds. Photo: Seabird NZ

They’ve successfully created a virtual arc in the park, which has allowed endangered species to be reintroduced and [they have] seen increased numbers of other native birds, including the local species of Kiwi, New Zealand’s iconic bird.”

Trade Aid:
Trade Aid, also recommended by Marie Szamborski, describes itself as “the only global network whose members represent the fair trade chain from production to sale.” The organization, in existence for more than 35 years, sources food and craft products from poor producers in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Pacific, and provides technical, logistical, and financial support to those producers as a means of helping them change their economic conditions.

The Wellington City Mission:
Another church-based organization, The Wellington City Mission provides many of the same services as most other organizations with a religious mandate: food pantry/feeding services; educational and vocational training and placement; emergency response and shelter services; and support for the elderly.

**All of New Zealand’s legally registered charities, non-profits, and non-governmental organizations can be found on the country’s Charities Commission website. The Charities Commission website is a useful resource if you plan to donate money for earthquake relief; it maintains a list of known scams you can consult before donating.**

Community Connection:

See other articles from #blog4NZ–and everything else Matador has ever published about New Zealand– on our New Zealand Focus Page.