Posted by Dave Wilson
KIWI INITIATIVE used for PACIFIC EMERGENCIES
Following is a Rotary Project that new Rotary members need to be aware of and older members need to remember which I was very involved with for many years both in our Rotary Dist. 9940 and also Nationally.
 
35 years ago Eastern Hutt Rotarian Ian Wright introduced the original wooden Emergency Box (now known as the Emergency Response Kit or ERK) to provide Humanitarian Aid and Assistance in the South Pacific Islands following tropical cyclones and other natural disasters. This project was presented and enthusiastically endorsed in 1984 by then District Governor and now Past Rotary International President Bill Boyd at his District 9940 Conference. It then spread quickly to all other five New Zealand Rotary Districts and at least four different types of box and several variations of contents evolved when the boxes were filled by individual clubs.
 
When the rate of resupply from Rotary Clubs no longer matched the need being experienced in 2009 Rotary New Zealand World Community Service applied and were successful in obtaining a substantial grant from New Zealand AID’s Humanitarian Action Fund to help replenish Emergency Box stocks. Acceptance of this grant however as well as New Zealand Customs required that every box was identical and contained identical contents so there was an urgent need for rationalisation. Accordingly in 2010 Rotary New Zealand World Community Service took over administration and management of the whole New Zealand Emergency Box operation and standardised the program to give it new life by relaunching and renaming it the Emergency Response Kit.
 
The standardised Emergency Response Kit now in a plastic box can be used to hold water or food once the contents have been taken out. The contents still include essential household cooking, eating, cleaning and clothing items, tarpaulin, tools, toilet and medicine items including a recently added birthing kit but are all brand new. Filling of the Kit’s which cost approximately $600 each is done in batches of 500 by selected Rotary Clubs in Auckland in accordance with demand. Pre-positioned stocks of ERK’s are held in readiness by Rotary Club’s in Samoa, Fiji, the Cook Islands and Tonga ready for immediate distribution when needed with backup and replenishment stocks of ERK’s held in Auckland ready to be freighted to any disaster areas in the South Pacific Islands.
 
The main beneficiaries of Emergency Response Kit’s are the people of Oceania/South Pacific including Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, Western Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Kiribati and the Cook Islands who are all affected by cyclones and other natural disasters.
 
Rotary New Zealand acknowledge the encouragement and support the New Zealand Government has given to this Project over many years through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Aid Program by providing transportation, logistical and financial support.
 
We will never know how many lives have been touched by this project. The International Humanitarian worth of the Emergency Response Kit in the Pacific Islands has been proven many times when their distribution by local Rotarians after disasters has been well advanced before other aid agencies had determined what, if anything they could do to assist.
 
For further information or to make a donation please visit website www.rnzwcs.org.  
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