Gabrielle Gimblett-Martin of Ellerslie Sunrise Rotary was key to finding and organising the volunteers for the packing of Emergency Repose Kits and here is her recounting of the 2020 ERK packing:
In 2020 five members of the Ellerslie Sunrise Rotary Club took on the project of organising the packing of Emergency Response Kits (ERKs) by District 9920 for use in the Pacific in times of disaster. This packing happens once a year after the Pacific cyclone season and produces enough ERKs in enough time to preposition throughout the Pacific and restock ready for the next disaster.
Most of the Pacific Islands are a part of the District and most Rotarians have a close affinity with the people of the Pacific whether through being part of one of the many Rotary projects that support the Pacific communities and / or through travel to the Pacific on holiday and meeting the locals.  Personally, I have extensively travelled the Pacific through roles in Rotary and am very familiar with just how devastating a disaster such as a cyclone can be and therefore how valuable these ERKs are to those who in many cases will have lost everything to the storm. So, finding enough volunteers to help such a vital and worth cause is not hard.
Ellerslie Rotary was able to obtain a warehouse in Highbrook to accommodate the extensive range of items included in the ERKs, packing these and final loading of the 1,000 packed ERK's boxes into three containers.  All this happens inside the warehouse and fortunately there is plenty of parking for our helpers, none of whom really want to have to search for a park in an otherwise busy area.
We started in mid-July 2020. but then Covid lockdown arrived.   This was clearly going to be a different year with its own set of unique challenges, but we are very good at meeting these. Slowly we progressed with 10 helpers that were happy to work with masks and be 2metres apart.
When things got back to normal, we had a huge influx of Rotarians coming that resulted in a very impressive 32 days of activity by the 26 Rotary clubs involved.  Even more impressive there were 332 people involved volunteering 999 hours, or an average of 3 hours per person per day to the packing.
Each week we worked on a Tuesday to Thursday from 10.00 - 1.00pm and Saturday mornings from 9.00 - 12.00pm.  Their reward was the incredible camaraderie that comes from working together as a team for such a worthy cause … plus the morning tea & biscuits and sometimes some of the helpers bought food for us all.
Each completed ERK box weighs-in at 23kgs so it was tremendous that we had the generous help with the lifting of the full boxes by 4 strong guys that came from the BBM Group (ButtaBean Motivation).   It was part of their daily fitness routine (so they said) and like so many opportunities in Rotary this contact came via the Rotary network from the Highbrook Rotary who have been supporting this local community group that are being encouraged to get back to a normal life after being in trouble with the police.  
The 3 containers were packed full ready to be sent to Fiji, Samoa and Vanuatu.  They have since been distributed to those in need after the latest cyclones over in the Pacific, probably the worst of which were severe Cyclone Yasa (December) and severe Cyclone Ana (January) with 947 kits being distributed by Rotarians in Fiji.  
Elklerslie Sunrise Rotary was so lucky to have the Goodmans Group sponsor the premises in Highbrook.  It was central, easy to find, a good lunchroom & kitchen and plenty of parking.  They have received a special certificate of appreciation from the Ellerslie Club for their contributions and it is in their Board Room on display.
Looking forward to July 2021 the plan is to start in July, but only have funds to pack 600 ERKs.  If anyone wants to help by sponsoring an ERK to help raise the total in the direction of 1000 again, please contact Gabrielle on
Here are a couple of quotes about the ERK packing project:
As a new Rotarian, I had no words to describe the feeling of arriving at that huge warehouse and seeing the enormous stacks of items waiting to be sorted, boxed and packed into shipping containers ready for transporting to our Pacific neighbours. It was overwhelming and truly opened my eyes to the scale of what Rotarians do. We worked hard, we laughed and had fun and for the first time in ages, I felt a huge sense of pride and gratification in being part of such a well organised and worthy cause. I will certainly be volunteering next year!
  • Lorraine Field.. Tamaki River Auxiliary (Pakuranga)
I enjoyed the ERKS packing and was very impressed how superbly organised the whole project was. It certainly gave me a shot in the arm and reminded me of the very worthwhile and valuable things we Rotarians do.
  • Bill Duncan, Pakuranga, (50 years in Rotary.)
Picture montage:
  • Top: Packing buckets (no space is wasted) | General packing pic | General packing pic
  • Bottom: Exercise break | Youngest Pakuranga Rotary member | Loading container
List of participating Rotary clubs/groups 2020:
Auckland East
Auckland South
Ellerslie Sunrise
Inner Wheel
Mens Shed
Mt Eden
Rotaract AKL
St Johns
Takapuna D9910
Tamaki River Aux
Others (Friends of Rotary)