Stories

Mahi with Meaning:
Meet the people who put the V in CVNZ

This Te Wiki Tūao ā-Motu National Volunteers Week (June 16–22) we are celebrating the incredible volunteers who make our communities greener, cleaner and friendlier. 

National Volunteer Week is a time to salute our volunteers and honour the collective energy and mana of all volunteers throughout Aotearoa.

Every week, up and down the motu, our volunteers turn up to take action for nature. These dedicated folks join us to plant native rākau (trees, shrubs and grasses), weed invasive plants, clean up rubbish, monitor native species, and share knowledge about our precious environment.

Volunteer is literally our middle name – we couldn’t do our mahi without them. 

Ngā mihi nui ki a koutou – we are so grateful to you all!

Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland

Bella Tam has been volunteering with CVNZ for four months as part of our Migrant Conservation Programme. We asked her what she loves about volunteering:

“For one, CVNZ offers a wide range of opportunities, from planting to weeding, so I can have the chance to acquire the knowledge of ecosystems and biodiversity in New Zealand. I can meet the community conservation leaders who are experienced and passionate. I’m so encouraged by their love and enthusiasm!”

Gislaine Gimenes also volunteers with our Migrant Programme and has been volunteering for four months. She loves volunteering because it allows her to connect to natural places and learn about native plants. Her favourite plant is kawakawa because it has the shape of a heart. “I love it!” she says.

Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington
Penny Race is one of our regular volunteers in Te Whanganui-a-Tara. She started volunteering in 2020 when she went part-time at her work. “[CVNZ] sounded like taking gardening to a whole new level,” she told us, “and it was outside doing something physical, which really appealed to me after years of an office job.”

She loves volunteering with CVNZ for many reasons. “I have learnt so much about New Zealand flora from the great team leaders, discovered many hidden pockets of Wellington’s green spaces and had interesting conversations with the other local volunteers and the many international travellers passing through,” she says.

“I have got fitter and stronger and come to appreciate Wellington a lot more in all types of weather. My favourite projects are along the South Coast, which is rugged and beautiful and releasing the new trees from the weeds.

“CVNZ is such a well-run organisation and I hope to be able to keep getting out and about, getting hot in the sun, blown by the wind and muddy in the rain for years to come.”

Thanks Penny, we so appreciate your mahi!

Ōtautahi Christchurch

Our volunteer coordinator in Ōtautahi, Donna Lusby, puts a lot of effort into ensuring volunteers are looked after and having a good time when they come out with us. “We aim to make these activities informative and educational for our volunteers, providing a full experience as well as passing on our passion for the care of the natural world,” Donna says.

Te Rama Kerr has been volunteering with CVNZ since 2022. A part-time university student, Te Rama is studying indigenous studies and ecology. She volunteers to meet new people, do good things in the community and learn more about our native ecosystems. She loves learning about invertebrates, birds, and plants and particularly enjoys seeing birds and tuna in the field.

Alison is a part-time relief teacher who has volunteered with CVNZ in Ōtautahi for two years. “I am passionate about volunteering to restore our wild places and believe it helps to recalibrate us both mentally and physically,” she says.

“A morning of volunteering helps to fill my bucket, and I appreciate meeting wonderful people, including other volunteers and project partners.

“Any day you get up and put your gumboots on is a good day!”

Punakaiki Te Tai Poutini West Coast

Claire Lhermitte has been volunteering on our projects in Punakaiki for about four years. Connecting with te taiao (the natural world) is one of the main reasons she loves volunteering with us: “Every human being needs nature to live and thrive,” she says.

It’s not just about the plants, though. Claire says volunteering days “are always a good opportunity for socialising, evaluating, inspiring, exchanging. There’s something truly nourishing in being able to give freely of your time with no financial expectation in return – unconditional love, we all need it!”

Volunteering has so many benefits – improving your local environment, meeting new people, connecting with your community, boosting your mental health and learning more about our unique and precious nature.

Find volunteering opportunities near you.

Thank you to our generous and hardworking volunteers for talking to us about their experiences ❤️