World's Biggest Reserve Bench Campaign - Press Release


Sir Graham Henry and New Zealand Blood Service Join Forces to Build the World’s Biggest Reserve Bench


  • Answer Sir Graham’s call up and join the world’s biggest reserve bench
  • New Zealand needs 100,000 people to commit to become a blood donor
  • There is no alternative to blood; blood donors save lives.

Every 18 minutes in New Zealand, someone needs blood. For some, it’s the difference between life and death. Sir Graham Henry is teaming up with New Zealand Blood Service (NZBS) and making it his mission to ensure the country is match fit by strengthening the nation’s most important team, our donor registry.

“Right now, less than 4% of eligible New Zealanders are blood donors”, says NZBS CEO Sam Cliffe. “Since 2016 our need for plasma has increase by 38% and is forecast to continue to grow.  This year alone we need to collect over 70 tonnes of plasma to meet demand. Relying on just 4% of our population to ensure lifesaving blood and blood products are available for all, is no longer feasible.  If the country is going to be able to continue to meet demand, we need more people to rise to the challenge and help us build the World’s Biggest Reserve Bench”. 

Ms Cliffe says all New Zealanders understand the need to have a strong reserve bench, it’s what makes our sporting teams so great. So, what better person to lead the rallying call for 100,000 new donors than Sir Graham Henry, a man who knows more than a thing or two about building a world-class reserve bench. A former blood donor himself, Sir Graham also understands the importance of blood donation.

“I think this could be the most important reserve bench of my career”, says Sir Graham.

“When I found out so few Kiwis donate blood, I was shocked. We need more people to step-up and commit to becoming a donor. The more people that join the reserve bench, the easier it will be for New Zealand to keep up with current and future demand. We can’t continue to expect so few to carry the health of our country.” 

Joining the bench is not about giving blood right away, it’s a commitment to be there when you are needed. The World’s Biggest Reserve Bench aims at maintaining a healthy support system for blood and blood products for the entire country, one that’s on standby and can be called upon when needed.

“Prior to this campaign, only a select few could claim to have received a call up from Sir Graham, but there can be no greater honour than to be chosen to represent your country,” continues Ms Cliffe.

“We are asking for New Zealanders to respond to Sir Graham’s call up and join the reserve bench. Even if you are not eligible to donate, you can still help by encouraging your friends, family and colleagues to join in your place. There is only one way to build the World’s Biggest Reserve Bench, and this is by unifying the country and working together”.

Just like New Zealand’s other famous reserve bench, being part of the World’s Biggest Reserve Bench will mean you get called on when your country needs you most. So, will you answer Sir Graham Henry’s call up?

Join the bench

It’s really simple to get involved. All you need to do is visit Once you’ve signed up, don’t forget to encourage family and friends by sharing Sir Graham’s video. Then wait for your call up. Let’s build the World’s Biggest Reserve Bench, together.


About New Zealand Blood Service:

New Zealand Blood Service (NZBS) in a not-for-profit Crown entity and the sole organisation responsible for the collection, processing, testing and storage and distribution of all blood and blood products in New Zealand. As such, it has to carefully manage the country’s blood supply to avoid collecting too much blood, or not enough. Blood and blood products have a shelf-life, platelets must be transfused within 7 days of collection and the red cell component of blood only lasts 35 days.

The demand for plasma derived products is driven primarily by an increased demand for Immunoglobulin products. Immunoglobulin is required for the treatment of patients with immunodeficiencies and some neurological conditions. Many of these patients require lifelong treatment with immunoglobulin products.

Over recent years the compounding increase in demand for immunoglobulin has been between 5 – 8% per annum. This growth is forecast to a 22% increase next year (a 60% increase since 2016). The growth reflects international trends. To support the growing demand, NZBS requires an increasing quantity of plasma for manufacture of immunoglobulin products to ensure there is security of supply for patient treatment.

NZBS relies on voluntary and non-remunerated blood donations from individuals around the country in order to provide a constant supply of precious blood and blood products used by health services to save thousands of lives.

  • Every 18 minutes in New Zealand, someone needs blood or blood products.
  • There is no alternative for patients in need of blood or blood products – blood donors save lives.
  • Every whole blood donation has the potential to save up to three lives.
  • The demand for plasma-derived products is increasing year on year.


Contact us:

Asuka Burge, New Zealand Blood Service, 09 523 6486, 0272 726 437 

Sandy Trigg, Network Communication, (09) 306 5811, 021 231 9406

Veronica Rojo, Network Communication, (09) 306 5809, 021 231 4910

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