Caritas Logo Image


You are here >

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Answers to key questions that people often ask us.

Caritas Logo Image

What is Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand?
It is the Catholic agency for justice, peace and development, an official agency of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference (NZCBC). Our main office is in Wellington where we have 18 staff. There are also two staff members in Auckland.

What does Caritas mean?
Our name translates from the Latin as ‘love in action’. We work to make a real difference in the lives of people living with poverty and injustice, through our actions directly with the poor, or on behalf of the poor.

What does Caritas do?
We work for a world free of poverty and injustice through community development, advocacy, education, and emergency relief.

What is advocacy in this context?
Advocacy is speaking out for those who cannot speak out, to get change to make the world a more just place. It includes making research, raising public awareness, making submissions and writing letters to governments, companies and international organisations.

Does Caritas work overseas or in New Zealand?
Both. We do advocacy work in New Zealand, for example we work with the Alternative Welfare Working Group to promote fairness for beneficiaries. Caritas also does international advocacy, for example, supporting human rights in West Papua.

Caritas works in New Zealand schools helping teachers and students think about social justice, peace and development.

Overseas we support emergency relief in countries affected by disasters such as earthquakes, cyclones, tsunami, famine and war.  Through our overseas partners we help provide things like food, water, tents, blankets and counselling.

Our overseas development programmes help make things better for the poorest people. We support programmes such as farming, health programmes, food and jobs in the Pacific, Asia, Africa and Latin America.

What does Caritas do in schools?
Helps teachers and students to think about the challenges posed by social justice, peace and development questions. We do this through visits, presentations, introducing visiting speakers, creating resources for lessons and assemblies, and publishing advocacy articles. We accept donations from schools which support our overseas partnerships with other Caritas organisations and non-government organisations (NGOs).

Does Caritas just work with Catholics?
No, Caritas provides help to anyone in need. In our development and justice work, we also work with anyone who is looking for peaceful ways to live with all creation and overcome poverty.

What topics has Caritas spoken out on recently?
We have made statements or done research on; overseas aid; children; peace and disarmament; cluster munitions; crime and punishment; environmental justice and climate change; HIV and AIDS; human rights; the welfare system in New Zealand; West Papua; cultural diversity; and refugees and migrants.

Find out more about these and other issues of concern on our advocacy pages. We also make submissions to Parliament on a wide range of social justice issues.

Where does the money come from to support Caritas’ work?
Most of the funds for our work come from two main sources:

  • From donors (individuals, groups and organisations) – through donations and bequests.
  • From the government – through grants from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT). Government funding is available for development and humanitarian projects, and makes up 22 per cent of income for Caritas.
  • How much does Caritas receive in donations each year?

In 2010 we received more than $3.8 million from both government and private sources. This represented a substantial drop from our average for the previous five years of $4.8 million annually, due to significant changes  in the government funding framework in 2010. (Figures from Caritas Annual Reports.)

How is the money used?
We strive to ensure that 85 to 88 percent of our income is spent on our programmes for development, relief, education and advocacy in New Zealand and overseas. Staff salary and administration costs come out of the money received. To work for a better world, we need to provide education, advocacy and information, as well as directly fund people in need.

Does Caritas sponsor children?
We do not make individual children available for sponsorship. Instead, we work with whole communities and with families to support parents in their responsibility to care for their children. We prefer to spend money in the place that needs it, rather than spending a lot of money on advertising materials and specific information for the sponsor. Read more on Caritas and child sponsorship.

What sources or streams of information does Caritas draw from?
The Gospel values of faith, hope and love underpin everything we do. Catholic social teaching, Vatican documents, current news, government policies, New Zealand Catholic Bishops’ statements and Caritas Internationalis are some of our most important sources, as well as interviews and reports. We also learn from our development and justice partners both here and overseas.

What is Caritas Internationalis?
Caritas Internationalis is the international confederation of Caritas organisations. There are 168 Caritas member organisations around the world. Many of them are our project partners for both relief and development. Some well-known Caritas members are CAFOD in the United Kingdom, Trócaire in Ireland and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in the United States.

Who are Caritas’ development and justice partners?
Our partners include members of Caritas Internationalis, NGOs, community groups and other civil society organisations. For example in Kenya we work on drought relief through our partner Trócaire (Caritas Ireland).

Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand do not send staff overseas to do hands-on development or emergency relief work. We fund organisations that work within countries to do this work, they are our partners. Our international programmes staff liaise with these groups by email, phone and visits to support and accompany them in their work.

What does Caritas do that no other Catholic organisation does?
We try to make a difference long term for people suffering from poverty and injustice. Our work is community-based rather than individual-based. Caritas works for the good of the whole person so it is not just about food or schools or health centres. We support their community, cultural and spiritual life as well.


Simpler versions of our FAQs for various school-age levels are available on our Students page.






Info & Resources


Visit Caratas on Facebook

Visit Caratas on Flickr

Visit Caratas on Youtube

Visit Caratas on Twitter