WelCom June/July 2021
The UN Day of the Seafarer is 25 June and the Church’s Sea Sunday, Day of Prayer for Seafarers, is 11 July.
Fr Jeff Drane sm
Stella Maris New Zealand began establishing Port Welfare Committees this year by building relationships with everyone involved in seafarer welfare – faith-based groups, national maritime authorities, unions, pilots and port owners, shipping agents, wharf workers and security – and by beginning to work collaboratively. Port Welfare Committees began to be formed globally before the pandemic but its arrival has hastened their formation. They are the response to a requirement of the UN’s Maritime Labour Convention [article 4.4], which the New Zealand government signed up to in 2016.
This will have the favourable outcome eventually for the Catholic Church in New Zealand no longer being solely responsible with the other Churches providing this service at its own expense. Fighting for funding dollars causes friction that is no longer appropriate among Christians in the 21st century. The new arrangement between the faith groups will provide more reliable succession plans, more resilient response groups and wider accountability for better transparency for everyone involved in the provision of services.
We achieved this outcome throughout 2019 by holding combined interfaith conferences that included Maritime NZ and the Maritime Union first in Sydney in February 2019 to begin to grow the Port Welfare Committee in Australia, New Zealand and Oceania. At home, we continued to reform the Seafarers Welfare Board of NZ, as the already existing structure with agreements between the groups, to continue to govern the agreed outcomes. This was achieved by holding the meeting on 13 March at Maritime NZ Head Office in Wellington with these organisations present along with the various faith-based delegates.
We were also able to establish a working accident and emergency procedure with Maritime NZ and Maritime Union NZ to attend to seafarers harmed by accidents and disasters. This was implemented by Stella Maris when Pope Francis also donated 2000 Euros each to the Bellerby and Harris families who lost sons in the livestock ship sinking in the hurricane in the Japan Sea in September 2020.
The main drive for the remainder of this year and 2022 will be visiting workers and volunteers in Auckland, Tauranga, Napier, Wellington and Lyttelton to teach the purposes and support the implementation of Port Welfare Committees and building relationships that will achieve this.