Rotary International has adopted ShelterBox, an international organisation delivering life-saving emergency shelter and humanitarian aid, as its first global project partner.

Rotary fundraising efforts make up a significant proportion of donations received by ShelterBox, which uses the money to produce hundreds of thousands of emergency response kits – each comprising a big green box containing a tent large enough to accommodate an extended family and an assortment of equipment and tools.

Of all the Rotary Clubs and other funding organisations in New Zealand, the Rotary Club of Kerikeri has financed the greatest number of ShelterBoxes – more than 25 to date, and counting. The country’s Governor General, Sir Jerry Mateparae, has presented the Club with a special award for its contribution.

The kits, each costing NZ$1,500, have been used in crisis areas extending from East Africa through to Syria and, most recently, Vanuatu, Nepal and The Philippines.

Rotarians worldwide also provide logistical support to ShelterBox field operations and Rotary Club of Kerikeri member Owen Smith has spent many weeks in various disaster zones providing field support.

The need for emergency shelter is not just in distant or underdeveloped countries. ShelterBoxes were used in Australia in the wake of flooding and bushfires there. They were also deployed during the Christchurch earthquake. The chunky green plastic boxes represent hope for families that have suffered great loss, not just of a home but in many cases a loss of family, friends and livelihood. They provide some stability at a time when the usual support systems and services are in chaos, or lacking.

Rotary Club of Kerikeri member Owen Smith tells TVNZ’s ‘Breakfast’ programme what ShelterBox is all about.