Lifeline was founded in Sydney, Australia in 1963 by the late Reverend Dr. Sir Alan Walker. Sir Walker had received a call from a distressed man who later took his own life. Determined not to let isolation and lack of support be the cause of more deaths, Sir Alan Walker launched a crisis support line after two years of planning and preparation.
A Life Line for Sydney
The Christchurch Methodist Community Mission Superintendent Rev W. A. Falkingham was studying social work programmes in Australia and discovered that Sydney was preparing to launch a Telephone Ministry using a name coined from the newspaper ‘ a Life Line for Sydney’.
The First Call
Geof Hill took the first New Zealand Life Line call, answering the call to 32-370 with the words “This is Life Line. May we help you?”
Lifeline Christchurch Launched
On 1st July Lifeline Christchurch was officially launched to provide personal and telephone counselling to those in need and services the Mid and North Canterbury regions, Kaikoura, Christchurch city, and the West Coast.
Early Beginnings Of Lifeline Auckland
In Auckland, a group of ministers of various denominations, driven by Dr D.O. Williams met together to organise a counselling centre in the new Methodist building on Queen Street.
The Interchurch Counselling Centre Opened
Based on Queen Street, the office operated with a face to face team, and an outreach team for people in crisis. It was then decided to incorporate a telephone counselling service to be known as the Samaritan Lifeline in Auckland.
Auckland Lifeline Opens
With 80 volunteer telephone counsellors, it covered the free calling area of greater Auckland, and the Hibiscus Coast.
Lifeline Christchurch Became A 24 hour Service
Lifeline Invercargill Established
Later adopted the name ‘Southland’.
The Surviving Loss By Homicide Group Was Started In Auckland
Lifeline Hawkes Bay Established
Based in Taradale about halfway between Napier and Hastings and covered the free-calling area of Hawkes Bay. Originally there were Centres in both Napier and Hastings.
Sponsored by Lifeline to cater for the needs of young people up to the age of 25. A team of 26 people aged 18-25 provided help to other young people struggling with dilemmas of adolescence.
Lifeline Whangarei Opens
Lifeline Whangarei opened a helpline and face to face service and covered the largely urban area of Whangarei, and financed a free-phone service from Wellsford in the south, through Cape Reinga in the north, and across to both the east and west coasts.
Lifeline Nelson Established
Servicing the free calling area of Nelson; provided a free-phone service from Murchison in the South to Collingwood in the North West.
Rev W.A Falkingham Honoured With An M.B.E
In her birthday honours, the Queen honoured the founder of Lifeline Christchurch Rev W.A Falkingham with an M.B.E for his work in the social services field.
Christchurch Approach Changed
Christchurch redirected their approach to prevention rather than assistance after client suicide numbers increased.
Auckland Lifeline Moves To Airedale Street
Lifeline Auckland moved to new premises at the ‘open circle’ on Airedale Street. For the first time the Face to Face service and the Telephone helplines where combined into the same building.
Dr D.O. Williams Given O.B.E
The founder of Auckland Lifeline was given the O.B.E for his work.
Lifeline Pukekohe Established
Christchurch Gets Third Line And Teleprinter Service
A third line was installed in Christchurch and Lifeline began a Teleprinter service linking the profoundly deaf with the hearing world.
Rev W. Falkingham Retired
Upon his retirement there was 8 Lifeline centres in New Zealand which where a direct result of his foresight.
Lifeline South Canterbury Established
Based in Timaru.
Teleprinter Line Introduced
Enabling the Auckland Lifeline counsellors to attend to the many practical problems on behalf of the deaf community.
Lifeline Marlborough Established
Located in Blenheim and covered the free-calling area that extended from Kekerengu to the south, the Rai Valley in the west, and the Marlborough Sounds to the north.
Lifeline Wairarapa Established
Based in Masterton, the centre was originally known as South Wairarapa, and was based in Carterton, but dropped ‘South’ when the Samaritan centre in Masterton closed. Covered as far north as Eketahuna, and as far south as Featherston, and all the towns in between.
Dr D.O. Williams Of Auckland Lifeline Passed Away
Kidsline began in Auckland for children aged between 9- and 13 to call between the hours of 4pm and 6pm.
Lifeline Auckland Moves
Auckland Lifeline moved into rent free space provided by Presbyterian Support Northern at 95 Great South Road, Remuera where it is still located today.
Lifeline Waikato Established
Located in Hamilton and serviced the Greater Waikato, King Country, Thames, Coromandel and Bay of Plenty – including both small urban and rural communities.
Chinese Lifeline Began
Offering limited hour’s service in Cantonese and Mandarin based in the Auckland centre.
Lifeline Tairawhiti Established
Based in Gisborne and closed down 12 months later.
Lifeline Otago Established
Based in Dunedin.
Gambling Helpline Launched
Lifeline launched a 24 hour helpline for problem gamblers.
Lifeline Auckland Gets PTE Status
Lifeline Auckland was provided with PTE status (NZQA Accreditation as a private training establishment).
Kidsline Opens In Christchurch
Christchurch Lifeline opened its 0800 Kidsline service in line with the Auckland Centre.
Lifeline Southland Ceased To Be A Member Of Lifeline NZ
Chinese Lifeline Gets National 0800 Number
Lifeline Pukekohe Closes
Lifeline Otago Closed
FAC’s 211 Line Commences
FAC’s 211 Line began in Bay of Plenty with Youthline as pilot (MSD Funded), incorporating SHINE, and Family Violence Information Line.
Lifeline South Canterbury Closed
National Depression Initiative Contract Awarded To Auckland
This included the National Depression Helpline & future services that will offer text, emails, phone and web chat modalities.
Suicide Prevention Education Programmes Adapted
Livingworks Suicide Prevention education programmes adapted and delivered nationally to include bi-cultural content.
New Contracts Introduced
Warmline (ADHB Contract) & Victims of Crime line introduced to Auckland.
MSD Fund The Canterbury Earthquake Support Line
Christchurch Lifeline Opens Email Counselling Services
Suicide Crisis Helpline Launched
Launch of 0508 TAUTOKO (Lifeline funded service with media campaign through Maori Television aimed at Maori population).
Auckland Office Refurbished
ASB Community Trust funds a full refurbishment of Great South Road offices.
Prison Helpline Pilot
Three month pilot for ‘Prison Helpline’ partnership with Northern Region corrections Facility.
Lifeline Launch Rebranding
ACC Contract Awarded
Face to Face services awarded Sensitive Claims ACC contract for services in 5 regions.
Eight of the nine Lifeline affiliated offices merge to form one single Lifeline Aotearoa with a support head office in Great South Road. These include Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Hawkes Bay, Taranaki, Wairarapa, Marlborough and Christchurch. One single telephony and database platform are established. Lifeline Nelson vote to stay independent and change name to Life Linc.
Chinese Lifeline Closes
Lifeline Whangarei Closes
NZQA Approved Programme For Kidsline
Kidsline launched NZQA Approved Gateway Youth Development Programme in Christchurch.
Christchurch Branch Moves Premises
Radical Restructure Announced
All branches except Waikato, Christchurch and Auckland close. Kidsline restructure with minimised team, and funding situation (1 year reserve), made public.
Wairarapa & Taranaki Branches Closed
Lifeline Merge With Presbyterian Support Northern (PSN)
One of the largest non-government organisations in the health and social service sector, PSN, committed to 18 months of operational support while looking to also help solve Lifeline’s long-term funding issues.
Text Support Launched
Lifeline launched its free text support service – HELP (4357) as part of its suicide prevention strategy to increase access to support for people in distress.
Kidsline merges with Barnardos 0800 Whatsup
Child-centred helpline Kidsline joined Barnardos, complementing its existing 0800 What’s Up telephone counselling and webchat service.