About the day

History

Rare Disease Day began in Europe on 29 February 2008. Originally, the intention was to celebrate the day every four years on Leap Day, but the momentum and enthusiasm for the day grew until it became an annual celebration – with events taking place around the globe.

In February 2010, New Zealand got involved, thanks to the initiative shown by the DEBRA New Zealand support group, who carried the flag for all rare disease groups in New Zealand. DEBRA arranged for the Vodafone Warriors to back the cause who committed to supporting rare diseases in New Zealand.

In February 2011, this website was launched and a series of fundraisers were organised by various support groups throughout the rare disease community. However, the second major Christchurch earthquake that occurred six days before the event led to the cancellation of most of the events, with everyone’s fundraising efforts channelled to the recovery effort instead.

As the host of Rare Disease Day in New Zealand, NZORD is keen to keep the momentum going each year – raising more awareness and funding for support groups throughout New Zealand.

Find out how other countries are celebrating their rare gems: