Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand

WelCom August 2021 A Culture of Encounter: BE the Church Social Justice Week, 12–18 September, 2021 Roger Ellis In the midst of this time of change and uncertainty, it can…

WelCom August 2021

A Culture of Encounter: BE the Church

Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand Archdiocese of Wellington

Social Justice Week, 12–18 September, 2021

Roger Ellis

In the midst of this time of change and uncertainty, it can be tempting to retreat into what we know best. But as Pope Francis reminds us, ‘isolation and withdrawal into one’s own interests are never the way to restore hope and bring about renewal. Rather it is closeness; it is the culture of encounter’, (Fratelli Tutti 30).

For this year’s Social Justice Week, 12–18 September, Caritas will be providing resources to parishes and schools based on the theme: ‘A Culture of Encounter: BE the Church’.

All people are made in God’s image and have innate human dignity. As we encounter people in our day-to-day lives, we need to keep this truth in mind. Today, the ability to sit down with others and really listen to them, is becoming an art lost in the midst of virtual networks and narcissism prevalent in what passes for communication today. Pope Francis refers to this as ‘information without wisdom’ (Fratelli Tutti 47).

In our schools’ resources Caritas explores the Beatitudes to help us live out a culture of encounter. For example, how can we live as peacemakers at home, school, work, church and in the neighbourhood? (Matthew 5:9)

Love can overcome all fear and provide us with a sound basis for a culture of encounter. Love is the ultimate spiritual measure of a person’s life. As believers we all need ‘to recognise that love takes first place; love must never be put at risk, and the greatest danger lies in failing to love’, (1 Cor 13:1-13 and Fratelli Tutti 92). 

The Caritas resources for Social Justice Week are being distributed to all parishes and schools and will be online at: 

To read Fratelli Tutti, visit:

Roger Ellis is Engagement Manager, Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand.

Wellington meeting strengthens bilateral ties for Caritas 

Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand welcomed their Caritas Australia counterparts to Wellington for a bilateral meeting in June, to reconfirm their commitment to a working partnership on their shared objective of addressing global poverty and inequities.

The two organisations have a history of informal and formal collaboration. Their previous bilateral meeting was in 2017 in Australia, after the Caritas Oceania Forum in Cairns.

Julianne Hickey, Director of Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand, said, ‘We have collaborated on numerous projects over the years, and our relationship has always been strong. But as we live in a changing world, the contexts we work in are becoming more complex and challenging. Together, we are examining better ways to work towards our shared goal of a just world for all in the face of rising global poverty levels and climate change.’

Kirsty Robertson, CEO of Caritas Australia, said, her organisation was honoured to have been welcomed with such warmth in Wellington for the bilateral meeting. ‘The opportunity to exchange our skills and learnings from the past few years has meant we have been able to strengthen our relationship, and discuss new ways to work together,’ she said.

Julianne Hickey said, ‘We were able to discuss better ways of responding to humanitarian emergencies together, and how we can further support our Pacific neighbours on Disaster Risk Management and resilience. As a fellow Pacific country, Caritas Australia is a great ally to continue our work in supporting our region.’

The visit began with a pōwhiri, as an encounter with Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand staff and Board, and included kapa haka. The welcome dinner, a hangi, was also attended by Cardinal John Dew, Archbishop of Wellington, and Siobhan Dilly, Executive Officer of the New Zealand Bishops’ Conference. Other cultural activities included a visit to Matairangi/Mt Victoria and the hidden collections at Te Papa Museum. The visit concluded with a poroporoaki (farewell).

Profiling NZ Catholic Bishops agency for social justice

Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand Archdiocese of Wellington
The Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand staff team at their annual mid-year retreat in the Wairarapa. Photo: Caritas

Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand is the New Zealand Catholic Bishops’ agency for justice, peace and development. The agency works on behalf of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops’ Conference for a world free of poverty and injustice through community development, advocacy, education, and emergency relief.

Overall mission

The Latin word ‘Caritas’ translates as ‘Christian love for humankind or charity’. Caritas is known as ‘love in action’. We unite with communities, especially in the parishes, colleges, marae, religious orders, schools and other Catholic agencies of Aotearoa New Zealand and Oceania to overcome poverty, protect lives and relieve suffering. 

  • We provide community development and emergency-relief response here and overseas.
  • We educate and advocate on social justice issues to counter poverty and injustice around the world, including in Aotearoa New Zealand.
  • Our work is underpinned by Gospel values and Catholic social teaching.
  • Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand staff are based in Wellington, Christchurch and Auckland. 
  • We are part of Caritas Internationalis, an international confederation of 165 Catholic aid, development and social-justice agencies.
  • The Caritas international network operates in over 200 countries and territories, supporting the poorest and most vulnerable, regardless of ethnicity, religion or nationality.

Strategic goals

Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand has five strategic goals, agreed by the Caritas Board, which help to focus our work. For 2018 to 2022 these goals are to: 

• Advocate and ensure the healing of relationships with the earth and all of creation.
• Protect the dignity of marginalised people and those affected by violence and crises.
• Strengthen our relationship with tangata whenua of Aotearoa.
• Inspire and empower Catholics in Aotearoa New Zealand to work for peace and a world free of injustice and poverty.
• Increase the effectiveness and resilience of our organisation.

Work in Aotearoa 

In addition to our work overseas Caritas also works here in Aotearoa New Zealand. The main areas of our work locally include:

  • Working with New Zealand Catholic primary and secondary schools to help schools deliver curriculum and Catholic character resources and lessons while educating young Catholics on justice and peace aspects of their faith. 
  • Social Justice Week resources provided for parishes.
  • Lent Appeal on behalf of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops including provision of Lent prayer and reflection resources to schools and parishes.
  • Journeying with tangata whenua communities.

Caritas finances

In the last (2020) calendar year Caritas income was derived from: donations (including the Lent Appeal) and bequests, amounting to $2.4 million; and specified funding received from Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) in exchange for specific overseas aid services amounting to $2.1 million. The total income from all sources for the year was $4.5 million. Caritas spent approximately $3 million on humanitarian aid and development; $0.6 million on Advocacy, education and parish engagement; and $0.8 million on donor relations, receipting, auditors, rent, wages and legal fees. The total sum spent for the year 2020 was $4.49 million.

New MFAT funding model: He Oranga Taurikura

In 2021 Caritas has been in negotiations with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) for a new funding contract based on multi-country and multi-year arrangements, which will add certainty to many of our overseas aid and development programmes and especially for our in-country partners who work with us to implement community transformation. At the start of July, Caritas joined with officials from MFAT to celebrate the official signing of the five-year partnership agreement.

In brief, for every dollar our supporters donate to He Oranga Taurikura, the NZ Aid Programme (MFAT) will donate an additional three dollars, thereby making a total of four dollars of impact. Donations towards He Oranga Taurikura cover long-term development work in seven countries: Fiji, Kiribati, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Timor Leste and Cambodia. Anyone wishing to take up this opportunity can donate via the Caritas website: or call Caritas on (04) 496-1742. 

Catholic social teaching as the basis for Caritas work 

The foundation and guiding principles for all our work is Catholic social teaching, a body of thought on social issues developed by the Church over the past 100 years. Catholic social teaching applies Gospel values such as love, peace, justice, compassion, reconciliation, service and community to modern social problems. More information is online at: