Wondering what to do in your spare time? How about collecting bras?

Having been involved in voluntary work while living in Wellington, Paraparaumu resident Andrea Berrett got involved with the Uplift Project after wanting to do something in her spare time.

Uplift is a project that collects new and secondhand bras and sends them to women in disadvantaged communities, primarily the Pacific Islands where a bra is often unobtainable or unaffordable.

From New Zealand, many of the bras go to the Solomon Islands, Fiji and Samoa.


Andrea was personally interested in the idea after hearing about the project, so she researched the organisation online and became involved.

"I had a few weeks off work and I got a bit bored.

"I thought I really should do something with my spare time.

"I do a lot of work stuff which is very much community based and I wanted to do something personal within the community as well."

The project started in Australia in 2003, coming to New Zealand in 2012.

"When I became involved initially, there was only Pauline Watson in Christchurch who started the project in New Zealand and one person in Auckland.

"Because there was no one else in the whole lower North Island, I thought I could be of use.

"At the organisation I work for (Pathways), mental health is our priority but total wellbeing is our goal, and initiatives like this are the sort of thing that can do wonders for people's wellbeing.


"People aren't compartmentalised, your mental health affects your social health and so on, so they allowed us to use Pathway offices as drop off points."

Andrea has been operating the project in Kapiti for the last two years.

"I think there's a huge community consciousness on the coast around "being green," recycle, reuse, and that includes your personal items.

"Many people make charitable donations to the Salvation Army, Mary Potter Hospice and places like that.

"People are actually looking for opportunities to get involved.

"The coast is well known for that."

Having now operated for two years in Kapiti, Andrea is the connector between all the people and groups keen to be involved with the project.

Just last week she arrived home to two packages on her doorstep full of bras.

While the project mostly sends bras overseas through a variety of means, Andrea personally believes that "if a woman needs a bra and we've got them available, I'm happy to help".

Recently Andrea worked with a local social worker from one of the district health boards to provide bras for a woman who only had one ill-fitting bra.

"She came in hunched over, obviously unhappy with her appearance, but the difference in her posture afterwards was noticeable.

"She came out beaming from ear to ear after the fitting looking really confident.

"Here in New Zealand we are a society of givers, although that might be my rosey view of things.

"For the individuals receiving a donation sometimes it can feel like you've got your hand out and that's difficult.

"The project is a great way for women to support women and works well focusing on giving overseas."

For more information about the Uplift Project visit their website www.upliftbras.org/ or contact Andrea via wellington.nz@upliftbras.org