In 1917, Melvin Jones, a Chicago insurance agent and business leader, told members of his local business club they should reach beyond business issues and address the betterment of their communities and the world. Jones' group, the Business Circle of Chicago, agreed. After contacting similar groups around the United States, an organisational meeting was held on June 7, 1917, in Chicago, Illinois, USA. The new group took the name of one of the invited groups, the "Association of Lions Clubs," and a national convention was held in Dallas, Texas, USA in October of that year.
Within three years, Lions became an international organisation. In 1925 the inspirational Helen Keller successfully challenged Lions to become “Knights of the Blind” and it was Lions who introduced the white cane to signify a blind person. The campaign is on-going and over the last three years Lions worldwide Lions raised over $200 million towards preventable blindness. Their SightFirst programme has saved or restored the sight to 27 million people.
Lions Clubs were introduced to New Zealand in 1955 with the first club established in Auckland.