“What was started in 1982 by Yandoit farmer, Tim Cox, as a small group planting trees on weekends has become the leading practical conservation group in Australia, managing thousands of volunteers who help out on dozens of projects each year.” Colin Jackson OAM, CEO 1988-2017, Conservation Volunteers

This was the beginning of The Australian Trust for Conservation Volunteers [ATCV], which later changed its name to Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA), but with the same mission of ‘inspiring change through connecting people to nature through practical engagement’.

In 2006, based on demand from international volunteers and the lack of similar opportunities in New Zealand, Conservation Volunteers New Zealand was established with support from the CVA board. Like its sister organisation across the ditch, CVNZ is a not-for-profit registered charitable trust, with the same kaupapa of delivering both social and environmental outcomes.

From a cramped office in Ponsonby with two staff, and a rapidly growing support base of both local and international volunteers, new projects and partnerships developed to facilitate the expansion across Aotearoa. One such key partnership began in 2007 at Punakaiki on the west coast of the South Island , where CVNZ partnered with the Department of Conservation and Rio Tinto to deliver the Punakaiki Coastal Restoration Project. Today, our Punakaiki office oversees on-going restoration and conservation projects throughout the West Coast region.

In 2018, CVNZ began a pathways to employment programme to help unemployed people back into the workforce and encourage involvement and education in conservation. The Conservation Work Skills (CWS) programme was developed by CVNZ in partnership with the Ministry for Social Development (MSD). The ethos of the CWS programme is that all New Zealanders  should have the opportunity to fulfill their potential. CWS equips participants with practical and transferable skills and provides opportunities for local job seekers to gain paid employment. 

To date, CVNZ has offices and runs projects in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Punakaiki. 

As to the future, we can be assured that so long as there is conservation mahi to be done, there will also be people willing to roll up their sleeves and get involved…’He rau ringa e oti ai’ ‘By many hands the task is completed’ to help.