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Refugee Family Reunification Trust Newsletter

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

No. 13 – December 2014

Cardinal Thomas Williams
Dame Fiona Kidman
Niborom Young
Kim Hill

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


The Trust has now paid for airfares to bring over 500 people - many of whom were children and young people - to re-join their families in Wellington. With our assistance, more than 160 families have been reunited.

The high cost of one-way airfares to Wellington - approximately $2,000 per person - is beyond the means of most refugees, who often flee their country with nothing. Many of the families we have helped have been very large, and so the cost of the airfares can be over $10,000 for one family. It is simply impossible for refugees to meet these costs. Yet for many, it is also impossible to make a new life in New Zealand when they know that their loved ones remain in perilous situations. It would be tragic if refugee families, who had been approved to live in New Zealand, remained separated simply because they could not afford to pay for the cost of the airfares - the final step in reuniting their family.

By nationality, the families we have assisted 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 have raised over one million dollars for refugees - 100% of which has gone to refugees. 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 all donations can be given to refugees. No remuneration is paid to the Trustees, and 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. The Trust receives no government funding.

The number of refugees seeking our help continues to increase, and the past year has been one of our busiest. We will continue our work successfully reuniting refugee families, and we hope that you are able to continue to support us.

Another significant achievement this year was the tripartite Memorandum of Understanding between the Trust, The Salvation Army and Catholic Social Services, which provides a framework for collaboration to better support refugees and their families in Wellington who have been assisted by the Trust, including by providing food, furniture, clothing and social work support.


Wellington Airport, in partnership with Wellington Community Trust and Wellington City Council, awarded us Runner-Up in the Health and Wellbeing Category of the Wellington Airport Regional Community Awards 2014. In addition to the award, we received $250. Wellington Airport is a special place for the refugee families we help, as it is where they are finally reunited, and where they begin their new lives together, so we are all the more pleased to receive this recognition.


Z Constable Street in Newtown kindly chose us as one of four community groups to be included in its Good in the Hood campaign. After public voting, we received $1,030. Thank you to everyone who voted for us, and particular thanks to Z Constable St for supporting us as a local neighbourhood charity.

Pride Film Fundraiser


The Trustees are extremely grateful to the Social Justice Group of the Catholic Parish of Otari (which includes St Theresa's Church in Karori and St Thomas More Church in Northland) for organising a fundraising screening of Pride at the Penthouse Theatre in October - raising $2,800. Special thanks to the many sponsors who generously donated vouchers and products for the raffles and spot prizes, including The Interislander ($250 travel voucher), The Penthouse (movie tickets), Countdown Karori, Marsden Village Cafe, Taylor's Drycleaners, Top Cuisine Takeaways, Gipps St Deli, Gipps St Butchery, Pembroke Motors, Hell Pizza (Northland), Beauty SOS, Streaks Ahead, The Olive Grove (Martinborough), and Karori Flower Shop. We truly appreciate the effort, work and generosity that went into making this night so successful, and we thank everyone for their support.

The Lunchbox Film Fundraiser

In September, a very successful fundraising screening of The Lunchbox was held at Lighthouse Cuba - raising $1,050. Special thanks to law graduates at Simpson Grierson, Catie Murray and Melanie Jagusch, for organising the whole event.

The money will help Carmenza, a refugee from Colombia, pay for the application fee required by Immigration New Zealand to bring her mother to join her in Wellington. Carmenza and her son were forced to flee Colombia after a terrorist group threatened to harm her son if she refused to store guns for them. Leaving everything behind, they were refugees in Ecuador for 6 years before being accepted for resettlement in New Zealand. Coincidentally, a Simpson Grierson solicitor, Josh McGettigan, is the volunteer at Community Law Wellington and Hutt Valley helping with the immigration process in respect of her mother. As Carmenza's son explains:

Since my mother and I were resettled in New Zealand we haven't had peace in our hearts because we are very concerned about my grandmother. She is not in a good situation in our country Colombia. We really miss her, she had been always with us helping us emotionally. Knowing that we are safe in this country and she is not safe in Colombia make us feel so anxious and depressed. Our lives are not completed without her, our dream is to have her next to us in New Zealand. We were very worried because we thought it is impossible for us to bring my grandmother here to New Zealand because it is so expensive and we do not have the money to do it. However when our lawyer told us about the Refugee Family Reunification Trust some hope brightened our lives. We know that with the financial help of the trust and with the help of God our dream of having my grandmother next to us is going to become a reality. Thanks Refugee Family Reunification Trust for your help.


We remain extremely grateful to all our donors, as they are ultimately responsible for the successful reunification of so many deserving families. To each and every one of our donors, thank you. We hope that you are able to continue your support, as each donation whether by way of regular automatic payments, or a one-off donation - is a vital contribution towards getting a family back together again.

A number of individuals and private trusts, who prefer to remain anonymous, have made very generous donations to our Trust. Other significant donors over the past year include: Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand; the Thomas George Macarthy Trust; The Catholic Foundation; Archdiocese of Wellington; the Archdiocesan Tindall Allocations Committee; Nikau Foundation; Yvonne and Peter Cottier; Crengle, Shreves and Ratner; St Joseph's Parish (Mt Victoria); and Queen Margaret College. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Toi Design Rainwear generously donated great wet-weather gear for refugee families, and Phil & Ted's support included refurbishing a double buggy to original condition, which went to a recently arrived family with a number of small children. Kiwi Community Assistance kindly gives food and furniture to families in need.


Many volunteers have kindly given their time to help run the Trust, to organise fundraising or to help new families with their resettlement. Special thanks to Alison Dyer for keeping the accounts. 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 Trust, and to Lesley Hooper for helping to manage the database. David Colls again generously donated his time to format this newsletter. Sr Rachel and Nathan Smith as volunteers both kindly helped new families with their resettlement. Simon Calder manages the website and database. Simpson Grierson provides pro bono legal support. Your assistance is invaluable.

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.