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Refugee Family Reunification Trust Newsletter

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

No. 14 – December 2015

Cardinal Thomas Williams
Dame Fiona Kidman
Niborom Young
Kim Hill

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

Refugees Need Help More Than Ever

As the global refugee crisis continues, New Zealand has agreed to take 600 more Syrian refugees over the next two and a half years. The Trust welcomes that decision. We will continue to raise money to help reunite refugee families who have been torn apart by humanitarian tragedies around the world. We have no doubt that Syrian refugees who come to Wellington will seek our assistance.

The number of refugees seeking our help continues to increase, and the past year has been one of our busiest. The Trust has now paid for airfares to bring well over 500 people - many of whom were children and young people - to rejoin their families who have made their homes in Wellington. With our assistance, around 180 families have been reunited. Put simply, without our help many of these families could never have overcome the financial challenges inherent in the immigration process. It is very rewarding to see so many families reunited after such long separations, and to know that the Trust has played a vital part in a successful, and life-changing, outcome.

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.


Over fourteen years, the Trust has assisted refugees from across the world, including families 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 or equally appalling situations.

We have raised more than $1,260,000 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.

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

Candlelight Vigil at Parliament


On 10 September 2015 around 3,000 people attended a candlelight vigil outside Parliament in support of welcoming more refugees to New Zealand, and $2,259 was generously donated to the Trust. The vigil was organised by Amnesty International, Action Station and Doing Our Bit, and was a wonderful expression of support for refugees. We thank them for choosing the Trust to receive the donations.

Simperson Grierson - Gifts to Refugee Children and Film Fundraiser

One sunny Friday afternoon in August, on the panoramic 24th floor of HSBC Tower on Lambton Quay, four refugee children excitedly rode around the Simpson Grierson boardroom on their new BMX bikes. For a deaf 9 year old Syrian boy, twin 7 year old girls from Ethiopia and a 10 year old Colombian boy, it was the first bike they had ever had. As part of the firm's scholarship interviews, the law student candidates took part in a team-building activity involving assembling the bikes and then giving them, with helmets, to these children who had recently arrived in New Zealand.

Then in September, a very successful fundraising screening of People, Places, Things was held at Lighthouse Cuba - raising $1,210. Special thanks to solicitors at Simpson Grierson, Melanie Jagusch and Catie Murray, for organising their second such event. Thanks also to Simpson Grierson for its continuing support for refugees.

Spectre Film Fundraiser


The Trustees are extremely grateful to the Justice, Peace and Development Group of Otari Catholic Parish (which includes St Teresa's Church in Karori and St Thomas More Church in Wilton/Northland) for organising a fundraising screening of the new James Bond movie Spectre at The Penthouse Theatre in November - raising $3,200. 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), New World Karori, Countdown Crofton Downs, Taylor's Drycleaners Karori, Gipps St Deli, Gipps St Butchery, One Fat Bird (Marsden Village), Fine Cuisine, Streaks Ahead (Northland), Ann Furneaux, Beaute of Kelburn, and Juliette Florist in Kelburn. We truly appreciate the energy, work and generosity that went into making this night so successful, and we thank everyone for their support.


We remain extremely grateful to all our donors, as they are ultimately responsible for the successful reunification of so many deserving families. The ongoing support of generous individuals and charitable organisations was critical to our success during the past year. 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 Archdiocesan Tindall Allocations Committee; Nikau Foundation; Yvonne and Peter Cottier; Marshall Wace Asia Limited; and Queen Margaret College. Your support is greatly appreciated.


Many volunteers have kindly given their time, skills and enthusiasm 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. Multicultural Learning and Support Services support us by sharing their mail 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 Mark Berger for the beautiful Christmas card (and front page) photograph. Thanks to Lesley Hooper for helping to manage the database. David Colls again generously donated his time to format this newsletter. Sr Rachel kindly helps 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.