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ADRA New Zealand signage

Photo courtesy of Denison Grellman.

ADRA New Zealand (ADRA NZ)

By Harwood Lockton


Harwood Lockton, M.A. (University of Newcastle, Australia) taught geography in state high schools in his native England for a decade before moving to Avondale University College, Australia, to lecture in human geography. He established Avondale’s Poverty and International Development major and overseas service trips. He also spent four years leading the international development program for ADRA Australia. In retirement he has been a guest lecturer at Avondale College of Higher Education, Australia, and Pacific Adventist University, PNG, and volunteers at a local foodbank.

First Published: January 29, 2020

The Adventist Development and Relief Agency New Zealand (ADRA NZ) is the official humanitarian nongovernment organization (NGO) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in New Zealand. It raises funds and provides project management for international and national community development projects1 and provides emergency/disaster response overseas and within New Zealand.2 It is a registered charity with the New Zealand Charities Commission and is fully accredited with the New Zealand government’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade aid agency (NZAID), a member of the New Zealand Council for International Development (CID), and an organizational member of the Fundraising Institute of New Zealand.3

Though the General Conference reorganized the Seventh-day Adventist World Service (SAWS) into ADRA in 1984,4 an ADRA presence in New Zealand had to wait another decade. Through the advocacy of Fred Wood, a passionate layperson, the North New Zealand Conference established ADRA NZ as a trust in 1994.5 It was registered as of April 1, 1995,6 as the first official development agency under the New Zealand Charitable Societies Act7 which enabled it to accept tax-deductible donations for overseas development and emergency assistance grants from the New Zealand government.

History of ADRA NZ8

In 1996, F. S. Wood became the volunteer director, but he died later that year. He had managed to develop ADRA NZ’s profile with NZAID and secured funding for ADRA NZ’s first project—a reforestation project in Siem Reap Province, Cambodia.9 This was the first of several significant milestones for the fledgling agency.

After Wood’s death, Warrick R. Long in 1997 added the ADRA NZ director role to his existing roles as North New Zealand Conference secretary-treasurer.10 During this time Alan Fletcher, with experience in Pakistan as the program director and later acting country director for ADRA Pakistan, worked as a volunteer, cultivating strong links with NZAID and the peak New Zealand development and humanitarian NGO body CID.11 This resulted in ADRA NZ securing further NZAID funding for development projects across the Asia-Pacific region on a project by project basis. In 1999 Fletcher was employed as the CEO, and in 2003 the agency became eligible for block-funding from NZAID to match with its own funds for community development projects and disaster relief response.12

The ongoing receipt of matching NZAID funds was dependent upon ADRA NZ securing a larger income—not an easy task with only 11,000 Seventh-day Adventist Church members at this time in New Zealand.13 Additional funds—US$66,000 per year—became available through David Syme, then executive director of ADRA South Pacific and ADRA Australia,14 who was able to reallocate the funds collected from the public in New Zealand during the Annual ADRA Appeal15 for use by ADRA NZ rather than being remitted to ADRA Australia as had occurred in the past.16 As a result, overseas projects were established in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Mongolia, Nepal, Thailand, and the Cook Islands.17 The Tindall Foundation18 and a government agency provided funds for national projects.

In the early 2000s following a review by NZAID, the board of trustees was restructured by removing half of the ex officio positions and replacing them with persons with development expertise, as well as working toward gender equality.19 However, the recommendation to increase staff was problematic because by 2006 the New Zealand Pacific Union had reduced its financial support. Clinton Rappell was appointed as executive director with particular oversight of the national program, and Fletcher moved to the new role of international program director on a part-time salary. During this period, Robert Patton was contracted to develop and manage the emergency management portfolio, funded by NZAID, and he replaced Fletcher as the chair of the NGO Disaster Relief Forum. A national program director was also employed.20

Rappell consolidated ADRA NZ’s national program and began engaging the broader New Zealand Seventh-day Adventist Church. During this time, the agency worked to engage its board more closely so that all but one of the board members visited an international project and used their expertise to provide support to the project country visited. The Tindall Foundation increased its funding, doubling the income for the national program. Sanitarium Health Food Company provided office space for ADRA NZ and some other support.21

During the first decade of the 21st century, NZAID shifted most of its funding to the South Pacific region. In response, ADRA NZ strategically shifted its focus from Asia to the South Pacific in order to maintain NZAID funding. Being a church agency, it could maximize arrangements within the regional network of Seventh-day Adventist schools and clinics and the existing ADRA offices to its benefit, thus being able to roll out new projects rapidly. Within the second year of this new emphasis, ADRA NZ was the top-funded NGO for the NZAID funds because some of the other NGOs had resisted the NZAID change of focus.22 Part of this shift included the expansion of emergency management, with ADRA NZ becoming the lead agency in a consortium funded by NZAID, which also funded the pre-positioning of disaster response supplies in the South Pacific. This focus was further strengthened by the creation of a joint disaster risk reduction capacity with ADRA Australia under the leadership of Robert Patton (ADRA NZ) and Chris Olafson (ADRA Australia).23

Matthew Siliga, a former marketing and donor relations director of ADRA Australia, followed Rappell as CEO in 2013 before accepting a vice presidential position with ADRA International in 2016.24 Though his tenure was brief, he significantly strengthened the national program so that the Church Partnership Program was able to start in 2014 with 50 local projects funded by a three-way split from ADRA, the local conference, and the local church, which became a model for other ADRA offices.25 He also added the ADRA Connections program26 and guided ADRA NZ to become the first NGO to meet the strenuous requirements of the 2014 CID Code of Conduct.27

Siliga was followed in 2016 by Mr. Denison Grellmann, a veteran ADRA worker with wide experience in Africa, Asia, Australia, the Pacific, and ADRA International. Under Grellmann’s guidance, the international program refocused to reflect contemporary development changes, donor preferences, and the programmatic emphasis of the ADRA network: sustainable livelihoods, health, and emergency management, with education as a secondary focus.28 Each of these foci was related to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.29 In 2018, development projects were in Cambodia, Myanmar, Timor-Leste, and Vanuatu, while disaster response and recovery projects were in Papua New Guinea, Samoa, and Vanuatu.30 The Church Partnership Program was renamed Community Transformation Partnerships to emphasize its community-driven approach.31


In the financial year 2017–2018, ADRA NZ had an income of US$3.31 million, of which $2.53 million was expended on projects with 74 percent allocated to the South Pacific, 15 percent to Asia, and 11 percent to the Community Transformation Partnerships.32

Role and Place in New Zealand and the South Pacific Region

ADRA NZ is ranked 12th of the 14 New Zealand development NGOs with an annual income of more than NZ$1.0 million (US$662,500). Though its market share of the total income for this group only is 2.1 percent, it receives 8.1 percent of the group’s government grants.33 Further, it is the second largest of the five church-based development agencies listed as members of CID34 after Caritas, the Catholic agency, in terms of income raised. In 2013 Caritas had an income of US$3.86 million and a potential support base of about 490,000 Catholic members, while ADRA NZ had an income of US$2.22 million with a potential support base of only 12,000 Seventh-day Adventist Church members.35

ADRA NZ has held a prominent role within the New Zealand development NGO community since its beginning. Its CEOs have served on CID committees and at times formally advised the New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs on matters relating to the NZAID program strategy.36 ADRA NZ continues as a member of the CID committee of 15 drawn from the 43 full members of CID.37 The agency has significance both within the New Zealand development and humanitarian sector and the communities of the South Pacific that belies its small size.

List of Directors38

J. M. Watson (1995); F. S. Wood (volunteer director, 1996); W. R. Long (1997–1998); A. Fletcher (1999–2006); C. Rappell (2006–2012); M. Siliga (2013–2016); D. Grellmann (2016–).

Office address

ADRA New Zealand
124 Pah Road
Royal Oak
Auckland 1023
New Zealand

Coordinates 39

36o 54' 49.152" S (decimal -36.913653)

174o 46' 10.468": E (decimal 174.769575)



ADRA International website.

ADRA New Zealand website.

ADRA New Zealand. Annual Reports. 1997, 1998, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013.

ADRA New Zealand. Community Transformation Partnerships: Handbook 2018. February 2018.

“ADRA—New Zealand Receives Block Funding.” Record, February 22, 2003, 5.

ADRA South Pacific website.

ADRA South Pacific. Annual Reports 1997.

Annual Reports, 2014–2017. ADRA New Zealand.

“CID Members: ADRA New Zealand.” Council for International Development.

“Code of Conduct.” Council for International Development. October 2014.

Council for International Development (CID).

“Currency Converter.” Oanda.

Fletcher, Alan. ADRA New Zealand—A Brief History—1996–2008. Unpublished notes.

Global Positioning System Coordinates.

Lockton, Harwood A. “Christians and the Alleviation of Third World Poverty: A Case Study of ADRA.” Unpublished master’s research paper, Deakin University, 1996.

“NZ Has Its Own ADRA.” Record, June 3, 1995, 11.

“Our History.” ADRA NZ.

“Religion in New Zealand.” Wikipedia. Updated March 17, 2019,

Sustainable Development Goals. United Nations.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Silver Spring, MD: Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, 1994–2018.

“What We Do.” ADRA NZ. Accessed May 15, 2018. This web page was no longer on the website by March 25, 2019.


  1. ADRA offices are often categorized as either support offices, which raise funds and sponsor projects in developing countries, or implementation offices, which implement projects. ADRA NZ, like ADRA Australia and a few other support offices, also runs a national community development program in New Zealand. Harwood Lockton, personal knowledge from working in ADRA Australia, 2006–2010.

  2. ADRA NZ website, accessed May 15, 2018, This web page was no longer on the website by March 25, 2019.

  3. “Corporate Information,” ADRA NZ, accessed May 15, 2018,

  4. The ADRA NZ “Our History” page ( states 1984. The action by the General Conference to merge the SAWS and the ad hoc Committee for Institutional Development was taken in 1983; 1984 was the first full year of operation as ADRA. See Harwood A. Lockton, Christians and the Alleviation of Third World Poverty: A Case Study of ADRA (unpublished master’s research paper, Deakin University, 1996), 13.

  5. It is typical practice for ADRA country offices to be under the aegis of the relevant union conference, but when ADRA-NZ was established, there was no geographically unique New Zealand Union Conference. For many years two unions encompassed the territories of New Zealand and Australia: the Trans-Tasman, including New Zealand and parts of Australia, and the Trans Australia, taking in the rest of Australia. Initially under the aegis of a local conference (North New Zealand Conference), in 1996 ADRA NZ and ADRA Australia became agencies of the South Pacific Division—the next higher level administrative unit of the Church. Although the unusual geographies of the unions in the SPD were rationalized in 2000 into the New Zealand Pacific Union Conference and the Australian Union Conference, the two ADRAs remained under the South Pacific Division until 2008, when they were transferred to the New Zealand Pacific Union Conference and Australia Union Conference respectively.

  6. “NZ Has Its Own ADRA,” Record, June 3, 1995, 11.

  7. Alan Fletcher, email interview by author, March 15, 2018; Warrick Long, email interview by author, March 26, 2018.

  8. No formal documented history of ADRA NZ is available other than an unpublished document, “ADRA New Zealand—A Brief History—1996–2008,” authored and shared by Alan Fletcher (ADRA NZ director from 1999 to 2006) and unpublished notes provided by Warrick Long (ADRA NZ director from 1997 to 1998).

  9. Fletcher, “ADRA New Zealand.”

  10. Long, interview.

  11. “CID Members: ADRA New Zealand,” Council for International Development, In the development and humanitarian sector, development means relatively long-term programs (typically 3–5 years) to enhance the capacity and sustainability of disadvantaged overseas local communities, while humanitarian means comparatively short-term responses to major emergencies and disasters, both overseas and nationally. Harwood Lockton, personal knowledge from working in ADRA Australia from 2006 to 2010.

  12. Fletcher, “ADRA New Zealand”; Long, interview; “ADRA—New Zealand Receives Block Funding,” Record, February 22, 2003, 5. The matching ratio was NZ$3 from NZAID for NZ$1 from ADRA NZ.

  13. Membership in combined North New Zealand Conference and South New Zealand Conference reported as 11,002 in 2000. “South Pacific Division,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook 2000 (Silver Spring, MD: Office of Archives and Statistics, 2000), 298, 299,

  14. ADRA South Pacific was an emerging regional office and ADRA Australia a longer established country office. These entities and roles were subsequently disentangled with separate chief officers though both are still housed separately in the headquarters offices of the South Pacific Division. Lockton, personal knowledge.

  15. Variously known as “Appeal for Missions” and “Ingathering” in the past and in some territories outside the South Pacific Division.

  16. Fletcher, interview; Long, interview . Foreign exchange rate conversion of NZ$1 = US$0.6625, as at August 21, 2018. “Currency Converter,” Oanda,

  17. Fletcher, interview; Alan Fletcher, email to author, August 22, 2018.

  18. The Tindall Foundation is a New Zealand national charitable foundation. See the Tindall Foundation website,

  19. Clinton Rappell, email interview by author, March 18, 2018.

  20. Fletcher, “ADRA New Zealand”; Fletcher, email.

  21. Rappell, interview. Following the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, the ADRA NZ office moved from the North New Zealand Conference office to the sanitarium compound in Auckland. Denison Grellmann, email to author, August 21, 2018.

  22. Rappell, interview.

  23. Rappell, interview. Patton became the catalyst for a move to greater professionalism in emergency management across the ADRA network. Greg Young, email to author, August 23, 2018.

  24. “Board Members: Administration,” ADRA 2016 Annual Report, 34, accessed March 5, 2018,; Harwood Lockton, personal knowledge from working in ADRA Australia from 2006 to 2010.

  25. Greg Young, director, ADRA South Pacific, email to author, August 21, 2018. This was the first time that local conferences in New Zealand provided funds for projects outside of offerings. Matthew Siliga, email to author, September 1, 2018; Grellmann, email.

  26. ADRA Connections is a program initiated by ADRA Australia that provides short-term opportunities for teams of volunteers to engage in-country in ADRA’s development work. Volunteers are asked to contribute funds for the actual project in addition to covering their own costs and expenses. The program has been adopted by other ADRA organizations including ADRA NZ and ADRA International. Lockton, personal knowledge. See also “ADRA Connections New Zealand,” ADRA NZ, and ADRA Connections,

  27. “From the CEO,” Thrive 2016 Annual Report: Adventist Development and Relief Agency New Zealand, 2, accessed May 16,; “Code of Conduct,” Council for International Development, October 2014,

  28. Grellmann, email.

  29. For the Sustainable Development Goals, see “About the Sustaniable Development Goals,” United Nations, accessed August 23, 2018,

  30. Grellmann, email.

  31. Grellmann, email. See ADRA New Zealand, Community Transformation Partnership: Handbook 2018, February 2018,

  32. ADRA NZ, 2018 Operating Statement (unaudited at time of writing), Grellmann, email. Foreign exchange rate conversion of NZ$1 = US$0.6625, as of August 21, 2018, “Currency Converter.”

  33. ADRA-NZ, “Benchmark Analysis 2012–18,” unpublished, Denison Grellmann, email to author, August 21, 2018.

  34. Data from CID, accessed August 14, 2018,

  35. 2013 latest year for data comparability. ADRA NZ, “Benchmark Analysis 2012–18,” unpublished, Grellmann, email. Catholic membership from “Religion in New Zealand,” Wikipedia, last updated March 17, 2019,; Seventh-day Adventist membership for 2013 from “South Pacific Division,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook 2015 (Silver Spring, MD: Office ofArchives, Statistics, and Research, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, 2015), 324, Foreign exchange rate conversion of NZ$1 = US$0.6625, as of August 21, 2018, “Currency Converter.”

  36. Rappell, interview.

  37. CID website, accessed August 14, 2018,

  38. ADRA NZ directors variously titled director, executive director and more recently chief executive officer. Data from Seventh-day Adventist Yearbooks 1994–2016, accessed March 14, 2018,; corrections supplied by three former CEOs: Clinton Rappell (email, March 18, 2018), Matthew Siliga (email, March 11, 2018), and Warrick Long (email, March 26, 2018).

  39. Location coordinates accessed March 5, 2018, from “GPS Coordinates,”


Lockton, Harwood. "ADRA New Zealand (ADRA NZ)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 29, 2020. Accessed June 17, 2024.

Lockton, Harwood. "ADRA New Zealand (ADRA NZ)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 29, 2020. Date of access June 17, 2024,

Lockton, Harwood (2020, January 29). ADRA New Zealand (ADRA NZ). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved June 17, 2024,