New Zealanders are being warned to look out for fraudsters trying to exploit charity appeals in the wake of the Nepal earthquake.
Thousands of New Zealanders have already donated money to organisations raising money to bring aid and help relief efforts in the earthquake-ravaged Himalayan country following Saturday's 7.8 magnitude earthquake.
However, Community and Voluntary Sector Minister Jo Goodhew has urged people to be on the alert for "unscrupulous people who exploit the public's generosity" after a natural disaster such as the one to strike Nepal.
"New Zealanders' swift response to the appeals set up to provide assistance to victims of the Nepalese earthquakes has been incredible. It is a real tribute to New Zealand's generosity and sympathy for those facing a terrible disaster," Mrs Goodhew said.
"However, experience shows that although the vast majority of fundraising is genuine, the public should be mindful of people fundraising fraudulently.
"I encourage New Zealanders to donate to well-established registered charities that have the experience and infrastructure needed to provide disaster-relief assistance.
"This way you can be sure that your donation is going directly to the people in Nepal who have been affected by the earthquake, and that your contribution is making the greatest possible difference."
Meanwhile, Oxfam has warned of "widespread destruction" in the Gorkha district close to the epicentre of the large earthquake, and said people in remote villages which had yet to be accessed could run out of supplies within a week.
Medical functions across the entire district are largely gone.
"No one is getting formal health care in Gorkha. Medicin Sans Frontiers [Doctors Without Borders] is active, which is a great benefit, but with the lack of sanitation facilities, it is likely more people will fall sick," Oxfam India's humanitarian programme manager Andrio Naskar said, speaking from Gorkha.
Food is available in Gorkha, and supplies are being boosted by the UN World Food Program, he said, but in remote villages, local supplies are likely to run out within a week.
Three trucks carrying tarpaulins, foam sheets, water containers, chlorine tablets and solar lamps have left the Indian city of Gorkhpur and another two have departed Kolkata with water filters and latrine construction materials, Oxfam said, making it the first time the Indian government had allowed aid agencies based in the country to travel out of India to help another nation.
The convoy is expected to reach villages in Gorhka - the district which gave the famous Gurkha soldiers their name - by the weekend. The terrain is so bad that some villages can only be reached by foot.
Oxfam aid workers in remote Gorkha villages say 80 per cent of houses are destroyed and almost everyone has been forced to live and sleep outside.
"This is not sustainable especially for the sick, elderly and children. Women - especially those who are pregnant or breast-feeding - are desperate for private spaces to wash and bathe, while rudimentary sanitation systems have been wrecked," Mr Naskar said.
Tips to ensure your donation is safe
• Check whether collectors are wearing an ID badge
• Ask a collector for the charity's registration number, and check that against the charity's entry on the online Charities Register at www.charities.govt.nz
• Ask the collector for more information - a fundraiser should be able to explain the work of the charity and how your donation will be used.
•Fundraising materials should display the charity's name, registration number and a landline contact number - be wary of those that list only a mobile number or email address.
• If in any doubt, contact your preferred charity directly to make a donatio