A brief look at the highlights of the New Zealand history of Trade Aid. Trade Aid has seen a lot of change over the years, including positive change to our producers' lives. But some things haven't changed, like our vision for a just world...


Vi and Richard Cottrell move to Northern India to work on a resettlement scheme for Tibetan refugees. Richard provides legal support to refugees, while Vi tries to find international markets for the refugees' Tibetan carpets.

Vi and Richard come back to Christchurch after two years in India. They want to go on supporting the Tibetan refugees, so they order $1000 worth of carpets and hang them in the CSA Gallery in Christchurch. Within 15 minutes of opening, all the carpets are sold.

The first meeting of interested members decide to set up "an import company to trade with underdeveloped countries" and call it Trade Aid.

"We choose to deal, as far as possible, with groups at grassroots level, so that the benefits from the sale of craft to Trade Aid go directly back to the people, in wages, and in the form of community developments. We try not only to find which of their products we can import and sell, but also to learn something of their aims and activities and of the people who are making the crafts" Richard Cottrell, Chairperson of Trade Aid (NZ) Importers, 1973 - 2001.

The first jute shipment of products arrive from CORR-The Jute Works in Bangladesh. Further trade partnerships in handmade textiles and handcrafts with countries in the Pacific and Asia are also formed.

Trade Aid's first shop, originally named "Third World Retailers", opens in Christchurch. This is the beginning of the Trade Aid Movement. More "Third World Retailers" shops continue to open over the coming years.

Thirty-one people attend our first gathering held in Christchurch. Under discussion are Trade Aid's aims and future. Educating New Zealanders about trade injustices also becomes a major concern - the Wellington shop forms a charitable trust with educational aims - to channel profits into researching trading practices, aid and development.

Our first shipment of tea arrives in New Zealand, By now Trade Aid has sixty trading partners in twenty-five developing countries.

The "Third World" shops and Trade Aid Importers become members of a common movement - The Trade Aid Movement. This is established to bring closer links between the shops and Trade Aid Importers. "Trade Aid" is selected as a common name for all our shops at the Annual Conference.


A Jute Campaign is organised to highlight the negative effects of plastic on jute exports for our Bangladesh partners. Sir Edmund Hillary fronts a national appeal to generate more trading capital for Trade Aid. $68,000 is raised.

Trade Aid hits the nation's headlines with the 1982 Tea Campaign.

Our first shipment of coffee from Nicaragua arrives. A campaign on the need to support Nicaragua in its efforts to remain independent and democratic takes place. The campaign was launched by Nicaraguan-born Eva Rickard.

Norma Velasquez of Minka in Peru attends Trade Aid's Annual Conference and visits numerous Trade Aid shops.
The first Trade Aid Study Tour of Trade Aid staff and committee members spend a week each in Bangladesh, Kolkata and Delhi visiting several producer groups and learning about the impact of fair trade on their lives.


Sir Edmond Hillary supports Trade Aid's Just Jute Campaign. The Jute Campaign held during Fair Trade Week doubled our sales over a period of three months and CORR-the Juteworks became our third biggest supplier.

An exhibition of Peruvian art and craft from our trading partner MINKA is held at a Christchurch gallery.

Erin Baker (NZ gold medallist), Jim Anderton (Alliance leader) and others sign the Trade Aid petition calling for stricter safety controls in Asian factories. A fourteen thousand signature petition is presented by Trade Aid to the Thai and Chinese Ambassadors in Wellington as part of this campaign.

1995 is Trade Aid's year of our African Trading Partners. Trade Aid shops throughout the country mark Africa '95 with special promotions and events. Wanjiku Kironyo, a producer partner from Kenya, visits and talks to the New Zealand media and public.

We present a 14,000 signature petition to Parliament to call an end to bonded child labour in the hand-knotted carpet industry in South Asia.

Rolls, 200 metres long, of red thumbprints are presented to Parliament as part of our 'Out of the Red Debt' campaign calling for the cancellation of unpayable Third World debt.


Our first set of social accounts are written. These are designed to assess the progress towards achieving our stated organisational objectives. Our producers' views on Trade Aid as a trading partner are "overwhelmingly positive".

Rebates from our trading profits are returned to partners for the first time.

A new agreement is signed with NZAID to provide substantial funding to build capacity of our key partners.

Trade Aid's General Manager, Geoff White, and Labour MPs present our twenty thousand signature petition to Parliament to "ban the importation of products made using slave labour".

Trade Aid imports over 700 tonnes of green, unroasted coffee beans - and it keeps on growing!