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Refugee Family Reunification Trust Newsletter

Refugee Family Reunification Trust
P.O. Box 27342
Marion Square
Wellington 6141

No. 12 – December 2013

Cardinal Thomas Williams
Dame Fiona Kidman
Niborom Young
Kim Hill

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


This year we raised our millionth dollar for refugees. As a small, voluntary charity this is a remarkable achievement, and is due entirely to the generosity of so many kind New Zealanders who are always willing to help those in need. Every donation, no matter how big or small, is a vital contribution towards getting a family back together again. To every one of our donors, thank you. We are extremely grateful to all of you for your support, and you should know that you are directly responsible for the successful reunification of so many deserving families.

The Regional Representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Richard Towle, recently marked this million dollar milestone with a symbolic donation to the Trust, and acknowledged the excellent work of the Trust in helping bring refugee families back together.

Over the past twelve years, the Trust has approved more than 300 applications for assistance from refugees in Wellington needing help with the costs of bringing their families to join them here. We have helped more than 150 families get back together again through paying for their airfares. Many of these families have been large - such as the grandmother reunited with her 14 orphaned grandchildren. Other children reunited with their families include twin 10 year old girls reunited with their mother after six years apart, and a newborn baby girl, who was left behind in Ethiopia, reunited with her parents and siblings in Wellington. Other memorable reunions include a father reunited with his three teenage children after eight years of separation due to the war in Sierra Leone, and a mother reunited with her three teenage daughters after 10 years apart. We have also reunited a number of physically disabled refugees with their families, including a Sudanese man reunited with his sister and her two boys; and a Somali solo mother with her widowed mother. We have also helped husbands and wives finally get back together; elderly parents join their sons or daughters here; and brothers and sisters reunite.

Dame Fiona Kidman receiving the
milestone donation from Ricahrd Towle

We have now paid for airfares to bring around 450 refugees - many of whom were children and young people - to re-join their families in Wellington. Without our help, many of these families would not have been able to begin the immigration process or, at the final stage, been able to pay the high cost of the airfares.

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, fundraisers, salaries or rent - so that 100% of donations can be given to refugees. No remuneration is paid to the Trustees. The Trust receives no government funding. Separate funding is obtained specifically for unavoidable administration costs, such as audit fees, and we are able to keep these to a bare minimum due to the Trust's reliance on unpaid volunteers.

By nationality, the families who have been assisted by the Trust were originally from Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Iraq, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Liberia, Sudan, Myanmar, Colombia, Sri Lanka and Banda Ache. Many of these families were living in refugee camps.

We will continue our work successfully reuniting refugee families, and we hope that you are able to continue to support us.

Queen Margaret College Helping Refugees For 8 Years!

Photo: New Zealand Red Cross / Neil McKenzie

For eight successive years, as part of their International Baccalaureate curriculum, Year 9 students at Queen Margaret College have studied the plight of refugees. The girls undertake a variety of fundraising initiatives to raise funds to help refugees, and have already given more than $10,500 to the Trust. They also organise and collect essential household items and generous food baskets to give to a refugee family when they arrive in Wellington. Equally importantly, a group of girls comes to the airport to warmly welcome a refugee family to their new life in New Zealand.

Every year the Trust matches the girls with a refugee family to help, including by collecting the necessities for starting a new life here. One year the girls also organised school bags with all the stationery items that twin 10 year old girls from Ethiopia would need to start school.

This year the girls are supporting Habiba's family - her brother, his wife and two little girls aged two and three. The girls raised over $1,000 towards the airfares, as well as collecting essential household items and toys for the two little girls. The students and their mothers also joined forces to knit peggy squares and make colourful, warm blankets for the family.

We wish to acknowledge and thank Queen Margaret College teachers and students for their strong and sustained commitment to refugees, and for their practical contribution towards helping some of those who are most at need in our community.

Zumba Fundraiser

In October we had a wonderful zumba party, raising more than $3,000. Sincere thanks to those who organised this event, including Kay Poletti, Rose Desmond and Jackie Anderson. Special thanks also to Alison Childs from Zumba in Wellington with Alison who generously gave her time and energy to make this fundraiser such a success. We also wish to acknowledge all those who donated raffle prizes, including Antipodes New Zealand Ltd for donating a wonderful giftbox of products; Gasworks, Greta Point Cafe and Vista Cafe for food and drink vouchers; Martha's Pantry for a voucher for High Tea for two; New World - Chaffers St for a gift basket; and The Roxy Cinema for a double movie pass. Thanks also to Out of the Box for printing lovely tickets on a pro bono basis. Your generosity really helped make this event.

The Butler Film Fundraiser

In November a very successful fundraising screening of the award-winning film The Butler was held at the Penthouse Theatre - raising $2,500. The Trustees are extremely grateful to the Social Justice Group of the Catholic Parish of Otari for organising the whole event. Special thanks to Whittakers Chocolate and RJ Licorice for donating treats for all our guests. We also thank Monsoon Poon/Boulcott Street Bistro for a $50 Monsoon Poon voucher for our raffle, and The Penthouse Theatre for a double pass to the movies. Other raffle prizes were kindly donated by the parishioners of St Thomas More Church. Thanks also to ProCopy Digital Print Ltd for printing tickets on a pro bono basis. We truly appreciate the effort, work and generosity that went into making this night so successful, and we thank everyone for their support.


Over the past year we have received wonderful support, and we wish to thank a number of significant donors including Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand, the Thomas George Macarthy Trust, The Catholic Foundation, the Archdiocesan Tindall Allocations Committee and St Joseph's (Mt Victoria). Other significant donors prefer to remain anonymous. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Over the years, many volunteers have kindly given their time to help run the Trust, to organise fundraising or to help new families with their resettlement. Your assistance is invaluable. Special thanks to Chris Brimer for keeping the accounts for the past twelve years, and to Alison Dyer for taking over this role. English Language Partners Wellington support 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. We are very grateful to Phil Dyer for taking photographs for the Christmas card and for the Trust, and to Lesley Hooper for helping to manage the database. David Colls again generously donated his time to format this newsletter. Nathan Smith, Sister Rachel and Jackie Anderson are wonderful volunteers who kindly help new families with their resettlement. Thanks also to Simon Calder for managing the website and database, Simpson Grierson for providing pro bono legal support and Patricia Thompson and Ideas Shop for pro bono media work.

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 27342, Marion Square, Wellington 6141.
By Automatic Payment – Contact your bank to obtain and complete an automatic payment form.
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 – Westpac, Lambton Quay Branch, Account Number 030502 0337025 00

Refugee Family Reunification Trust
PO Box 27342, Marion Square, Wellington 6141.
Telephone: (04) 475 7994 or (04) 384 1992
Fax: (04) 475 7934
Website: refugeefamilyreunificationtrust.org.nz

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