Our history

New Zealand

Our-history_M1_Minnie-Havelaar The first branch of Save the Children New Zealand was established in 1947 by Minnie Havelaar in North Canterbury. Its aim was to find foster homes and/or sponsors who would care for war-orphaned children, mainly from the United Kingdom but also from the rest of Europe. Two years later, she formed a second branch in Timaru. 

Minnie was born in Holland, brought up in Britain and immigrated to New Zealand after World War I. She was 70 when she established the Save the Children Fund.

Branches were gradually established throughout the country until Save the Children became a national organisation in 1956.

Today, volunteers throughout the country promote our work by fundraising through our shops and local branches. Many generous New Zealanders also contribute towards our work.


Eglantyne Jebb Save the Children’s international founder was Englishwoman Eglantyne Jebb, an extraordinary woman who made a personal commitment to make positive change to her world. Eglantyne and her sister Dorothy Buxton founded Save the Children in London on 19 May 1919.  Appalled by the plight of the starving millions in post WWI famine stricken Europe, they lobbied the British government to end the supplies blockade on Europe. Political lobbying was not achieving enough so they took bold steps, gained massive public support and launched the Save the Children Fund to send food directly to those starving in Europe.  In 1923, Eglantyne went on to draft the Declaration of the Rights of the Child which evolved into the current United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), the most universally accepted human rights treaty.


The UNCRC remains at the heart of what we do. We are present at the United Nations where we continue to advise and lobby to ensure children's rights are considered and protected. We also work at national and local level to ensure children, young people and their communities, have a say on the issues that matter to them. 

Save the Children is the world’s leading independent organisation for children. We work in 120 countries. We save children’s lives; we fight for their rights; we help them fulfil their potential. We work with our partners to inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children. We work to achieve both immediate and lasting change in their lives.