A look back at what's been delivered by UNICEF Aotearoa New Zealand in 2021

A message from our Chair 


Kia ora tātou katoa


UNICEF was established in the immediate aftermath of WWII to help children and young people whose lives and futures were at risk, no matter their country's role in the war. Since then, UNICEF has evolved with the needs of children – becoming the primary voice for child survival and development and bringing nations together under the banner of children’s rights.

In the second full year of a global pandemic, UNICEF Aotearoa evolved and adapted as it was critical that we stayed the course that we had set in our strategy. This was to diversify our income streams through a greater focus on business donors and philanthropists, to plan and implement our pivot to digital fundraising, and to create the organisational conditions where innovation will flourish.

We have made excellent progress in all of these areas in 2021. I am hugely grateful to my Board colleagues, who have worked tirelessly through significant disruption to steward this important work. It has been a privilege to work with this team. They bring great governance skills, deep knowledge in mātauranga Māori, law, finance, child rights, big data, innovation and entrepreneurship, marketing and fundraising, global markets, and more to the governance table.

To our staff, thank you for your commitment and hard work this year.

In 2021, UNICEF commemorated its 75th anniversary. In the face of unprecedented global challenges for children, our mandate is more relevant than ever. It is always an honour to be a part of this global social contract to promote and protect children’s rights and ensure all children survive and thrive into healthy, productive adulthood.


Ngā mihi maioha


Linda Jenkinson

Board Chair

CEO report


Kia ora tātou katoa

Like many organisations in Aotearoa New Zealand, we faced some unique challenges in 2021. Especially when the Delta variant of COVID-19 inevitably hit New Zealand’s shores.

Despite these challenges, we were overwhelmed by the incredible generosity of our supporters and donors. I am proud of the team for responding to these challenges. It was a top priority to ensure that our staff were safe, well, and able to continue their mahi for children worldwide. And thanks to our supporters, who showed how much they care during these difficult times. As a result, we raised more funds for children in need than any other year in UNICEF Aotearoa’s history – an impressive $14.4m!

In 2021, we strengthened the foundations of the business, and our UNICEF team grew to include corporate and partnership expertise, enabling us to diversify our income streams. And we signed a multi-year partnership agreement with the New Zealand Government, allowing us to work together to achieve long-term health and education outcomes for children in the Pacific and Southeast Asia.

Our supporters responded to the turmoil and crises in Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan. Kiwis stepped up to provide much-needed donations for urgent support and care to the children harshly impacted in these fragile settings.

COVID-19 had a devastating impact on many countries around the world. With help from our partners and donors, UNICEF provided much-needed medical equipment to India and life-saving vaccines under the COVAX initiative to many other countries.

Our advocacy work is critical in promoting and protecting children’s rights. This year, we have created a diverse network of relationships to support our ability to influence and catalyse action. In addition, we welcomed a new Ambassador, All Black great Dan Carter. 

We will also continue to focus on our partnerships with children and young people and support their participation in the decision-making and debate that affects them here in Aotearoa and globally.

And we will be engaging our donors further to ensure the impact their valuable donations and support are having on children in need.

I commend the UNICEF team, who rose above the challenges this year, and whose passion, commitment and hard work have led to these successful results for children.

On behalf of the UNICEF Aotearoa team, we thank all our donors and supporters for your continued dedication and commitment. For never giving up until every child thrives.

Michelle Signature (1)

Michelle Sharp

Chief Executive Officer


Āio ki te Aorangi

Aroha ki te aorangi 

Koa ki te aorangi 

Pono ki te aorangi 


Kia tau ko te kahukura 

Te wairua kore here 

te kawe i te tika 

me te pono 


He tohu aroha tēnei 

Ki te o whānui 

He maumahara ki te 

whaea a Papatūānuku 

- Nā Rose Turuki Pere te Kaituhi

Peace to the universe 

Love to the universe 

Joy to the universe 

Truth to the universe 


May the violet flame 

the spirit of freedom 

that upholds justice 

and truth, prevail 


This is a gift of love 

to the whole world 

it is a token of my regard 

for Papatuanuku – earth mother


UNICEF is the United Nations Children's Fund. For over 70 years, UNICEF has protected the rights of children in over 190 countries and territories around the world. As a result, we have provided more children with clean water, life-saving food and vaccines, education and protection from violence than any other humanitarian organisation. 

UNICEF Aotearoa is a New Zealand-registered charity serving as the public face and dedicated voice of UNICEF in New Zealand. We raise funds for emergencies and development work from generous New Zealanders and New Zealand businesses who stand in solidarity with children worldwide. And we advocate for children’s rights, urging the Government and businesses to develop and implement policies that support children in Aotearoa New Zealand and globally to thrive. 

Our work matters more than ever today. And in 2021, our committed donors and supporters responded. We raised $14.4m to support children in need – more than any previous year in our history. 

Many focus areas remained the same as we continued and expanded our support of programmes to help children in the Pacific, such as in Afghanistan. Covid-19 also greatly impacted our work in 2021, with several campaigns launching to respond to the global pandemic. 


Expanding WASH and ECCE

New Zealanders have a special affinity with our Pacific neighbours and have supported many campaigns to improve the lives of children in the region. As well as our work on vaccinations and Covid-19 support, we signed a joint UNICEF Aotearoa / New Zealand Aid Programme partnership agreement. This partnership harnesses UNICEF’s development expertise to amplify our joint effort and the outcomes we achieve for children. Working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, this partnership has helped us progress our child health and early childhood education initiatives in the Pacific and Southeast Asia. 

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) 

Safe water, toilets and good hygiene keep children alive and healthy. Growing up in a clean and safe environment is every child’s right.  

In 2021 we progressed vital projects:  

  • Kiribati – national water, sanitation and hygiene standards and improvements to healthcare facilities in schools 
  • Vanuatu – bringing essential water, sanitation and handwashing services to dozens of schools, reaching thousands of students 
  • Solomon Islands – national standards for schools and providing girl-friendly water, toilets and handwashing in dozens of schools. 

Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) 

Quality pre-primary education is the foundation of a child’s journey: every education stage relies on its success.  

In 2021 we built on work to boost early childhood education access and quality: 

  • Kiribati – positive parenting sessions for hundreds, locally written storybooks and a nationwide ECCE curriculum 
  • Timor-Leste – building new community preschools, introducing teaching and learning processes and teaching tools, training people to train teachers, parent support materials, and Covid-19 lockdown support. 


Emergencies – malnutrition, displacement and COVID-19

2021 was a year of ongoing turmoil and crises in Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan, with children some of the hardest hit. Stories of displacement and separation, malnutrition, lost opportunities, and loss of life moved everyday Kiwis. As a result, New Zealanders donated nearly half a million dollars for those children most in need. 



  • 3.7 million boys and 3.6 million girls supported in Syria
  • 4.1 million people with health and nutrition assistance reached
  • In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, UNICEF distributed 18.6 million items of COVID-19 personal protective equipment and trained 711 health workers 
  • UNICEF and partners screened 1,333,065 children and women for malnutrition, identifying and treating 6,469 severely malnourished children 
  • 3.9 million people reached WASH services in 2021 
  • Child protection interventions reached over 988,000 people, aiming to reduce violence, exploitation and abuse and mitigate the impact of the current crisis on children 
  • Provided psychosocial support for 188,013 children 




  • UNICEF supported the treatment of 2.7 million children for common illnesses, including pneumonia and diarrhoea, covering 80 per cent of the needs nationally 
  • Over 520,000 pregnant and lactating women and new-borns were served through outreach by community midwives 
  • Over 50,000 health workers from 3,644 health facilities received COVID-19 personal protective equipment 
  • 273,049 children treated for Severe Acute Malnutrition 
  • 222,346 children were provided with individual learning materials, and 540 classrooms were constructed or rehabilitated 
  • 325,633 children reached with psychosocial support 
  • UNICEF reached over 8.8 million people (5.3 million children) with safe and sustained access to drinking water  




  • 320,523 children treated for Severe Acute Malnutrition 
  • Over 7 million children received vitamin and mineral supplements 
  • 3,657 teachers were trained, and a further 7,606 teachers received training supplies. This allowed 238,123 children to benefit from community-based education  
  • 13 women and girls’ safe spaces provided a meaningful platform at the community level for individual and group psychosocial support. Through these safe spaces, over 980 women and girls were provided with psychosocial support, and 7,002 women and girls benefited from various needs-based life skills activities 



$469,950 raised to help children in India during the COVID-19 pandemic


4,500 oxygen generators & 26 oxygen plants supplied

200 COVID-19 testing stations given to help children

8.5 million triple layer masks and 1.75 million face shields delivered to front line staff 

Response to Covid-19 India appeal

As India battled a devastating second wave of Covid-19, Vodafone New Zealand and Te Rourou, Vodafone Aotearoa Foundation doubled all funds donated to UNICEF Aotearoa. This raised a generous total of $469,950, including $20,000 from clothing company Shine On, $50,000 from the not-for-profit Indian Global Business Council and $28,000 from Sudima Hotels. These funds contributed to UNICEF's life-saving assistance. 


  COVAX in the Pacific  

UNICEF Aotearoa’s generous private sector partners, supporters, and donors contributed over $1.1 million in 2021 to UNICEF's global initiative called COVAX. These funds enabled people in low-and middle-income countries, including our neighbours in the Pacific, to receive the Covid-19 vaccine. COVAX shipped 958 million Covid-19 vaccine doses to 144 countries and territories, delivered 500 ultra-cold chain units to 52 countries, and provided the technical support and training needed to roll out Covid-19 vaccination plans. 

  Rotary – Give Every Child a Future  

To celebrate their centenary year, Rotary clubs in Australia and New Zealand raised funds to immunise 100,000 children with life-saving rotavirus, pneumococcal conjugate and human papillomavirus vaccines. These vaccines were launched in seven of the nine Pacific countries, with plans to launch in the remaining two countries (The Cook Islands and Tokelau) in 2022. These immunisations will prevent killer diseases, including pneumonia, diarrhoea, and cervical cancer, and ultimately save young lives. 



Urgent need for children’s mental health support 

UNICEF Aotearoa spotlighted children’s mental health and well-being needs in New Zealand following the State of the World's Children Report 2021: On My Mind - Promoting, Protecting, and Caring for Children’s Mental Health in October. 

The report showed children and young people carried the burden of mental health conditions without significant investment in addressing them.  

On national media, UNICEF Aotearoa Chief Executive Michelle Sharp reminded everyone that "mental health is unequivocally a human right. We must protect vulnerable children and their whānau and care for those facing the greatest challenges”.  

Read the full statement: Poor mental health in children and young people cannot be ignored | UNICEF Aotearoa 

NZ ranked 33 out of 41 countries in childcare 

The state of Aotearoa’s childcare and paid parental leave policies were discussed in 2021, as UNICEF Aotearoa promoted the findings of a new UNICEF global childcare report: Where Do Rich Countries Stand on Childcare? 

The report ranked New Zealand 33rd out of 41 European Union and OECD countries based on policies that covered accessibility, affordability and quality of childcare for children between birth and school age.  

UNICEF Aotearoa brought the issue to national attention, noting that, for tamariki to have the best start in life, we must ensure parents have the support they need and can access affordable and quality childcare.  

Full statement and report link: Affordable, quality childcare inaccessible in many of world’s wealthiest countries | UNICEF Aotearoa 


  Rugby hero becomes UNICEF Aotearoa Ambassador   

Sporting legend Dan Carter joined the UNICEF Aotearoa team to help create a better world for every child. With 112 All Blacks’ test caps, Dan is the top international test rugby points-scorer and a true Kiwi sporting hero. He joins other high-profile Ambassadors who volunteer their time, platforms, and networks to educate, advocate and fundraise for children and young people.  

“I am grateful to be in a position to shine a light on the challenges children and young people are facing, and to help accelerate the important and impactful work of UNICEF. I have had the privilege of realising my dreams, and I am thrilled to use my sporting success to give back to something close to my heart.” 

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  UNICEF/New Zealand Government partnership boosts aid work  

In July 2021, UNICEF Aotearoa and the New Zealand Government's Aid Programme announced a multi-year, multi-sector partnership to support and strengthen the resilience of children in five countries in the Pacific and Southeast Asia: Kiribati, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Timor-Leste and Papua New Guinea. 

As an island nation in the Pacific, Aotearoa New Zealand, has a unique connection to Pacific people and places.   

The $16 million partnership will boost the impact of projects to improve access to water and sanitation and support early childhood education and care. In addition, it aims to strengthen the voice and self-reliance of local communities and ensure sustainable change for children. 

 Remembering Sir Ian Hassall 2021

UNICEF Aotearoa was deeply saddened in 2021 to farewell Sir Ian Hassall, New Zealand’s first Children’s Commissioner and previous recipient of UNICEF’s prestigious international Aldo Farina Award. 

Sir Ian was a compassionate and principled man. He fiercely dedicated his time to improving the lives of New Zealand’s children. In addition, he brought a thorough research-based approach to the work of the office. In all his roles, Sir Ian was greatly respected. 

Moe mai rā e te Rangatira!  

(Sleep well, Sir!) 

  UNICEF Aotearoa’s bicultural journey  

In recognition of our commitment to the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, UNICEF NZ became UNICEF Aotearoa New Zealand. To empower and support this country’s most in-need children – making the shift from grievance to aspiration – we will become adept at moving in their world. We will be a connector to global citizenship opportunities for rangatahi and for indigenous children and young people worldwide to connect to Aotearoa New Zealand. 

Our new name is a profound and overt signal of this intention. 

We have, and will continue to, take advice from UNICEF Aotearoa Māori advisors, trustees, iwi partners and other Te Ao Māori experts. Establishing our Indigenous Committee has provided focus and guidance to our bicultural journey. 

Over the next months and years, we will progress our bicultural learning as an organisation and as individuals through Te Tiriti o Waitangi training, building confidence in cultural competencies, and whakawhanaungatanga – meaningful relationships and partnerships with Māori.  

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UNICEF Global Leadership Change 

In December 2021, UNICEF announced the appointment of new Executive Director Catherine Russell. Bringing decades of experience developing innovative policy that empowers under-served communities worldwide, she replaces outgoing director Henrietta Fore. 

UNICEF Aotearoa welcomed the announcement of Catherine Russell to the global role and bid a very fond farewell to Henrietta Fore. Fore’s outstanding work addressing the extraordinary challenges facing young people worldwide was well recognised.   



Cryptocurrency exchange Bybit is investing in UNICEF’s STEAM (Science, Technology, Education, Arts and Mathematics) education work in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, including a digital education pilot programme for girls in a remote, mountainous province in Vietnam. “We are honoured to continue to partner with UNICEF to ensure young people can keep learning and secure the skills they need to help build a better future.” - Ben Zhou, Bybit Co-Founder and CEO. 


  • Gawith Deans Family Trust ($40k)  
  • Paul Carr ($20K every year) - The Greatest Need 
  • Rotary 


  • $65+ – Pacific project  
  • $34K+ – The Greatest Need 
  • $73K+ – The Greatest Need 

India Covid 19 Response:  

  • BNZ  
  • The Indian Global Business Council 
  • Shine On  
  • Sudima Hotels  
  • Vodafone New Zealand and Te Rourou  


  • Anglican Mission  
  • Cotton On  
  • Kathmandu  
  • Les Mills International  
  • NZ Tech Alliance  
  • TVNZ  
  • PWC New Zealand  
  • Westpac 

Special mention also to Jenny-May Clarkson, Jemaine Clement, Trelise Cooper, Graham Down, Malakai Fekitoa, Neil Finn, Neil Gaiman, Sam Neill, Henry Nicholls and Bic Runga, and the many others who stood in solidarity with children in 2021. 

Meet UNICEF Aotearoa Global Parent Jo Gifford 


Global Parent Jo Gifford has supported UNICEF Aotearoa for more than 30 years, drawn to the ability to make a difference for children and women worldwide. Monthly donations from Kiwis like Jo are essential to UNICEF Aotearoa’s global mission to help every child thrive. 

The Te Aroha public servant and mother says her monthly contribution amounts to “a couple of coffees a week”. But, while there have been times she’s pulled back financially, she always returned to support UNICEF’s mission to “do good” for the children and women who need help. 

“UNICEF is there for the people and there for the children. It does good for people, and I’ve always believed in supporting good causes. 

“There’s a sort-of selfishness to it, too,” she says. “You feel good about helping people. So, when I see one of the programmes I’ve supported on TV news, I think, ha! My little drop in the bucket has helped make that happen.” 


  Aotearoa New Zealand’s Contribution to UNICEF’s Work  


In total, $33.2m in donations from Aotearoa New Zealand were used in UNICEF's work and programmes to improve children's lives in 2021. This includes the New Zealand Government’s core contribution and grants to emergencies and humanitarian situations in specific countries. Our continued advocacy helps to ensure that child rights obligations are front and centre in relevant Government policy and budget decisions. The total contribution from New Zealanders also includes an astounding $7.4m from UNICEF Aotearoa donors. 

  UNICEF Aotearoa's Contribution to UNICEF's Work  


Donations to UNICEF Aotearoa totalling $7.4m (54% of total revenue generated) were used in programmes to improve children’s lives.

$6.4m was used to respond to specific emergencies and development aid projects. It was also used to support children in the greatest need, whatever fragile context they may be in. $1m was used in our domestic advocacy programmes and to support the delivery of WASH and early childhood education programmes in the Pacific and Southeast Asia.

Of the $6.4m, the top three programmes that received funding were humanitarian emergency response activities at $2.7m, WASH programmes at $1.3m, and education activities, including early childhood education and care at $1.2m.

36% of total revenue was reinvested into communications and fundraising, while 10% was required to support the organisation's administrative functions.

  Our Revenue Sources  

Revenue raised by UNICEF Aotearoa in 2021 was $14.4m – a growth rate of 0.7% in 2020. Generous donations in cryptocurrency came from both individual donors and business donors. When converted, these donations provided funding for digital education in Southeast Asia and innovative solar-powered boats and medical facilities to support UNICEF’s work in Venezuela. We also greatly appreciated the generosity of individual donors and businesses supporting COVAX, the India Covid-19 appeal, and other emergency and humanitarian appeals during the year. Our pledge donors continued their generous regular support, contributing $7.2m in 2021.

Revenue from New Zealand Government dipped in 2021 as we transitioned our partnership to an outcomes-based, multi-year arrangement and a new payments schedule.

Fundraising Income 2017-2021

2021 Funds Remitted - Focus Areas