Red Cross Society

Ad hoc activity on behalf of the Red Cross began in New Zealand in 1914, at the outbreak of World War I (WWI) … after a number of enquiries, New Zealand’s first Governor-General Lord Liverpool convened a meeting of Red Cross and St John representatives in Wellington on 10 November 1915 … this led to the formation of a national office and Council, and the emergence of the New Zealand Branch of the British Red Cross, known from 1917 as the ‘New Zealand Branch of the British Red Cross Society and the Order of St John’ … Red Cross raised money and organised medical supplies, clothing and food parcels for sick and wounded soldiers overseas and once they returned home … they also helped during the influenza epidemic in 1918 by training nurses and providing medical supplies and relief.

Although Red Cross personnel had previously responded to floods and to the Murchison earthquake of 1929, the Hawke’s Bay earthquake of 3 February 1931 raised awareness of the need for a more efficient, centralised response to natural disasters … this awareness, and pressure from the British Red Cross for New Zealand to develop an independent national Society, led to the emergence of the New Zealand Red Cross Society, which was incorporated on 22 December 1931 … recognition by the New Zealand government and the International Committee of the Red Cross / Red Crescent followed in June 1932.

The New Zealand Red Cross Society again teamed up with the Order of St John during World War II as the Joint Council, sending medical relief, supplies, clothing and food to sick and wounded soldiers and New Zealand prisoners of war … in 1990, the Society changed its name to New Zealand Red Cross.

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