Stella Maris has been working with the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference to raise awareness for the future. There needs to be new thinking post-Covid, with New Zealand being the first government in the world to fund seafarer welfare.
Stella Maris New Zealand National Executive and national director Jeff Drane, SM, have been working with the NZCBC to organise a succession plan to ease transition through these changes. Other nations are now following New Zealand’s lead.
Stella Maris is not funded directly, but through the NZ Seafarers’ Welfare Board, an ecumenical organisation of which Stella Maris is a part. The Government has recognised the board as the most experienced provider, because of its long-term involvement of service to seafarers in this country’s ports. The Government gives only partial support, and the main faith-based organisations like the Catholic Church provide the shortfall.
When in New Zealand’s ports, paid seafarer welfare officers, who are now more professionally trained, provide portable Wi-Fi service for seafarers to be in contact with family. They also provide shopping orders sent by seafarers ahead of arriving in port, and these items are delivered to the top of gangways on arrival. They also provide general welfare in terms of offering a friendly ear to pick up on any physical, mental, emotional or spiritual needs of the seafarers.
With crews now only requiring to complete a self-administered RAT test before being able to get shore leave, the number of crew coming ashore is slowly increasing. The problem of ship owners and operators not wanting crew going ashore remains.
Listening to crew members who wish to talk about their concerns or issues, and referring those issues onto the appropriate authorities as necessary, remains the key part of what the Seafarers’ Welfare representatives do.
Seafarer centres (in ports that have them) are getting ready to welcome more seafarers, by refreshing the centres, and working on re-establishing a pool of volunteers to staff the centres.
Sea Sunday is on July 10 this year, when prayers are needed for seafarers, as they are still the most at-risk in employment on the planet. If a reader feels they can assist Stella Maris in New Zealand, either as volunteers or donors, please contact the National Director on 027 492 0250, or give support with a small donation by simple Internet banking : My choice $
TO: Account Number: 06 0582 0083650 00 Account Name: Apostleship of the Sea Inc.