Established by the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference in 1966, Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand aims to make a difference in the lives of people living with poverty or injustice through community development, advocacy, education, and emergency relief. Their work supports community development projects and emergency response in about 20 countries with 30 programmes across the Pacific, Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Approximately 80 percent of Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand’s income is spent on programmes for development, relief, education, and advocacy within New Zealand and overseas to change structures that cause poverty. Their programmes support the supply of drinking water and irrigation, teach sustainable farm management, strengthen primary health care, develop skills and credit for small businesses, and improve the lives of women and indigenous peoples. Overseas, Caritas supports emergency relief in countries affected by disasters such as earthquakes, cyclones, tsunami, famine and war by providing food, water, tents, blankets and counseling.
Through its overseas volunteer arm Mahitahi, it also places skilled volunteers from New Zealand to serve needs in the Pacific.
In 2012, Caritas New Zealand allocated over $780,000 towards humanitarian response, ranging from immediate response after disaster or conflict, to long-term recovery programmes such as supporting Burmese refugees in Thailand. Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand launched Special Appeals for the Pacific cyclone and Sahel drought crisis. Domestically, Caritas works in New Zealand schools helping teachers and students consider issues of social justice, peace and development from a Catholic perspective.
Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand’s main office is located in Wellington where 16 staff are located. A further three staff are based in Auckland, while a strong group of volunteers supports Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand’s efforts throughout New Zealand and abroad.
Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand partners include Caritas Internationalis, NGO’s, community groups and other civil society organisations. For example, in Kenya, Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand is partnering with Trócaire (Caritas Ireland) to improve relief efforts in drought prone regions in Kenya.
Global temperatures averaging almost 1oC above normal. For people in some parts of the world, this might still seem like a technical measurement, or a future concern. For us in Oceania, it is rapidly becoming a matter of life or death.
Up to 90 percent of buildings on one of Vanuatu main islands have been destroyed or damaged as aid workers rush to help survivors of Cyclone Pam. Caritas has sent emergency staff to Vanuatu to link up with local church structures.
Pope Francis called attention to refugee families "often forced to flee their homes and countries in a hurry and losing all their belongings and their security to escape violence, persecution or serious discrimination because of their religion, ethnic identity or political ideas."