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Refugee Family Reunification Trust Newsletter

Refugee Family Reunification Trust
P.O. Box 27 342

No. 7 – November 2008

Cardinal Thomas Williams
Dame Fiona Kidman
Niborom Young
Kim Hill

Amanda Calder Chairperson
Therese O’Connell
Ismail Ibrahim
Brigid Feehan
Philippa Meachen


This year marked a wonderful milestone for the Trust – we have now raised more than half a million dollars for refugees in the seven years since the Trust was established. We are particularly proud of this achievement, as not a single dollar of donations has been used to generate this income – we do not pay for advertising or for fundraisers – so that 100% of donations can be given to refugees. We do not pay any salaries or rent, and no remuneration is paid to the Trustees. The Trust does not receive any government funding.

Separate funding is obtained specifically for necessary administration costs (such as audit costs, postage, envelopes, printing the annual newsletter etc). However, we are able to keep these administration costs to a bare minimum, due to the Trust’s reliance on unpaid volunteers – to the extent that, since 2001, less than $10,000 has been spent on these costs.

The Trust has approved 136 applications for assistance from refugees in Wellington needing help with the costs directly associated with bringing their families to join them here. In the past year alone, the Trust has provided financial assistance to 24 refugees living in Wellington to enable them to be reunited with their family members who had been left behind.

Importantly, the total number of refugees benefitting through the Trust is even greater than these numbers suggest, as most refugees assisted by the Trust have brought out more than one family member. For example, this year the Trust has paid for airfares to bring 50 refugees – including 38 children – to join their families in Wellington, at a cost of $95,600.

Since it was established in 2001, the Trust has paid for airfares to bring around 256 refugees – 174 of whom were children and young people aged under 24 – to re–join their families in Wellington.

Most of our funds ($384,224 to date) have been spent on one–way airfares to Wellington – the final step in reuniting a family. Without the help of the Trust, many of these families would not have been able to begin the immigration process or, at the final stage, been able to pay for the high cost of the airfares.

It is very rewarding to see these families reunited after such a long separation from each other, and to know that the Trust has played a vital part in this outcome. The process can often be slow. For example, in 2005 the Trust approved an application by Rahma, a refugee from Somalia, to meet the cost of the application fees required by Immigration New Zealand to bring her three orphaned nephews and niece to New Zealand. They had been living as refugees in Ethiopia since they were very young, and had been separated from each other for nearly 10 years. They finally arrived in Wellington in October 2008.

In addition to airfares, the Trust has provided funding to refugees for the costs of application fees and medicals required by Immigration New Zealand ($71,630 to date). We have also paid for eight appeals to the Residence Review Board ($5,600) – seven of which were successful.

In appropriate cases, the Trust also provides interest–free loans to refugees, and these loans are often repaid well within the one–year period. In this way, the Trust plays a unique and valuable role in helping refugees overcome immediate, but sometimes short–term, difficulties posed by the expenses of family reunification.

By nationality, it is interesting to note that half of the families we have helped over the past seven years are from Somalia (68 applications for assistance). The next largest nationality requesting assistance are refugees from Ethiopia (49 applications). Nine refugees from Iraq have sought our assistance, and other refugees (10 in total) needing help were originally from Sierra Leone, Cambodia, Liberia, Sudan, Myanmar and Banda Ache. Many of these families were living in refugee camps in Kenya, Ethiopia and Sudan.

Due to the number of families needing assistance from the Trust, some families had to wait for several months before we were able to obtain sufficient funding to help them. Although it is sometimes difficult for the Trust to raise money, it is even more difficult for refugees to do this for themselves. We will continue to do our best to raise enough money to help all refugees in Wellington eligible to be reunited with their families.

Country of Origin of Refugees Needing Assistance
Funds Raised Each Year


We are extremely grateful to all our donors, without whom we could not have successfully reunited so many deserving families. The ongoing support of generous individuals and charitable organisations has continued to provide the foundation for our success. Please continue your support, as each donation is a vital contribution towards reuniting a family.

The Trustees wish to sincerely thank all our donors, including regular contributors who donate by automatic payment. Your continued support is critical.


Several individuals and private Trusts, who wish to remain anonymous, have made very generous donations to our Trust. Other significant donors over the past year include Caritas, the Thomas George Macarthy Trust, the JR McKenzie Trust, The Catholic Foundation, the Tindall Foundation, New Zealand Post, the John Ilott Charitable Trust, the Rotary Club of Wellington, the Cathy Pelly Memorial Trust, St Joseph’s Parish (Mt Victoria), Queen Margaret College, Kelburn Little School and a number of other churches and schools. We very much appreciate this widespread support.

All work for the Trust is undertaken on a voluntary basis, and many volunteers have kindly given their time. Special thanks to Chris Brimer for keeping the accounts. The Wellington ESOL Home Tutor Service supports us in a number of ways, including by the use of their box number. We would also like to thank the Trust’s auditor, Peter Scholtens. Stella Daniell kindly took the photographs for the Christmas card and for this newsletter, and David Colls again generously donated his time to format this newsletter.

Another source of satisfaction came from our Trust being Highly Commended in the Health and Wellbeing Category of the Wellington Airport Regional Community Awards 2008.

In Refugees’ Own Words …

"Many thanks for my application fees. I am so grateful. It will be a very happy day for me when I am reunited with my twins and the other members of my family."
"I am writing to say thank you for paying for my family’s airfares. It has been 17 years since I saw my mum. I am very excited about seeing my mum and my brother. My children are also excited. My mother and brother have never met my husband and my children. My family is important to me and soon we will be all together."
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Refugee Family Reunification Trust and the people dedicated to helping refugees. I am one of the refugees who got great financial assistance with the cost of the airfares to bring my family to New Zealand who I hadn’t seen for more than 16 years. The Trust paid for more than 75% of the airfares and lent me $1,000 interest–free which I will pay back within a year. So my appreciation for this Trust is very high."
"I feel very happy to reunite with my mother, sister and brother after more than 20 years apart. Thank you."

About Us

The Refugee Family Reunification Trust is a charitable trust incorporated under the Charitable Trusts Act 1957 and registered under the Charities Act 2005. Donations of $5 or more can be tax deductible.

The purpose of the Trust is to financially assist refugees in Wellington to bring immediate family members to join them here. Reuniting these families greatly improves the lives of those refugees already living in New Zealand, and is critical to their successful resettlement and integration.

All money raised is used exclusively to help refugees pay for the expenses directly related to bringing family members from refugee situations. This includes application fees charged by, and medical reports required by, Immigration New Zealand, and the cost of airfares to bring approved family members to New Zealand.

How You Can Help

By Post – Send a donation to the Refugee Family Reunification Trust, PO Box 27 342, Wellington.
By Automatic Payment – Telephone us at (04) 475 7994 and we will send an automatic payment form to you to complete and return to us.
By Telephone – Telephone us to discuss any fundraising event you are organising that may be able to contribute towards the Trust.
By Email – Send a message to
By Internet Banking – contact for details

Refugee Family Reunification Trust
PO Box 27 342, Wellington.
Telephone: (04) 475 7994 or (04) 384 1992
Fax: (04) 475 7934

For privacy reasons, refugees' stories and photos are not included on our website.