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Eight worthy ways to spend your holidays

You’ve gnawed the last of the turkey bones, put the New Year’s champagne bottles in the recycling. Hell, you’ve even taken a walk, opened that book or called your mum, all part of your resolve to be the best person you can be in 2017.
You can make a start right now. While many volunteer organisations are taking a well-earned break until mid-January, we’ve found places that would be thrilled to have your helping hands. You don’t even need to wait until February. Here are some ways to you can reach out and help your corner of the world, right now:

Feed people

The Salvation Army still needs people to help at food banks around the country, along with other community-specific projects – post Christmas is a hugely needy time. Pop in to your local Salvation Army centre or give them a call to talk to someone about what they need.

While there is a process to get signed up for any work with clients, including a police check, there are often other non-contact jobs that need doing while regular volunteers are on holiday. Check them out here

Auckland City Mission also needs helpers to sort the huge donations of food and gear that came in before Christmas, so would love to give you a job. Call 09 303 9200, or click here to see what jobs need doing when.

Be kind to animals

Every SPCA in the country is in the midst of a flood of kittens. Jono Peddie of Auckland’s branch says that they desperately need foster families for the hundreds of kittens, and their young mothers being dumped at the shelter. The next foster induction starts January 15, when, after a 90 minute workshop at the Mangere village, you can pick up your fur-baby and gear to give it lots of love and care for three to six weeks until a permanent adoption is arranged. For Auckland call 09 256 2525 or apply here. Or check your local SPCA branch

If you can’t be hands on with animals, round up kids and crafters to make toys and equipment, click here for ideas.

Look after a beach

A beautiful beach needs help to stay that way with the summer crowds. Waiheke’s Resources Trust (funded by Auckland Council’s Local Board) have teams of beach ambassadors roaming Oneroa, Little Oneroa and Palm Beach encouraging visitors not to litter, point out recycling (take your own rubbish away), as well as monitoring restrooms and barbecues and sharing their pride in their island community. Apply on-line. Rosters start January 5 until Waitangi Weekend. Another team of citizen scientists are helping Project Little Oneroa monitor the cleanliness of the stream, with volunteer water testing teams out on Saturday January 21 or February 18. Click here for opportunities, or call 027 386 1125.

If you’d love to look after other special patches of beaches or bush, check out the Nature Space web site which lists groups and events up and down the country looking for volunteers.

Park it

It’s too late to apply this year for the best summer job ever– camp hosting at Auckland’s gorgeous regional parks. But if you’d like to work on replanting, bird counting, weed clearing and more, there are groups attached to pretty much every park in the region. Check out Ark in the Park at spots out west and south, animal care at Ambury and more. The Department of Conservation also welcomes volunteers at some of its campgrounds and parks through the summer. Check what they need by clicking here or contacting regional officers. Coromandel has quite a few positions.

Get sporty

Many of the big summer sports meetings need people on the ground to help the athletes do what they do best. There are triathlon meets around the country, but if there’s a summer sport you love, chances are there are events that would love your help as marshalls, water carriers or packing up gear. Click here or check out the websites of your favourites.

But the biggie is the the World Masters Games in April, when 25,000 athletes converge on 45 venues in Auckland and Waikato and some 4000 volunteers make it happen. While applications for some jobs are closed, organisers are still looking for sports specialists such as marshals, assisting at aid stations, equipment set up and qualified first aiders. If you’re over 17, available for at least four shifts (between April 21 and 30) and happy to undergo police vetting, apply here.


The wonderful Volunteer Net keeps an up to date list of happenings looking for happening people. Handily, they only feature events that are still looking, so you don’t waste your time. ATEED’s Tamaki Haerenga Waka Festival on Anniversary Weekend, Rotorua’s New Year’s Glo Festival and Seafood Festival, or Port of Tauranga’s half marathon are all recruiting right now. On Waiheke, WRT want people to help manage waste education stations at Headland Sculpture on the Gulf (January 27 to February 19). Click here to check out the opportunities.


The happy people at summer’s happiest festival, Splore at Tapakainga beach are still looking for cool people to work as stewards in campgrounds, waste management, parking, hospo, packing in and out, child whispering. Tradies are particularly welcome to share their skills. You need happy attitude, be aged over 18 (volunteer manager Holly Bennett has plenty of folks in their 50s and 60s), prepared to make the festival the joy it is. Preproduction starts mid-January, so apply now.

Keep up the good work

Volunteering New Zealand runs a number of excellent regional websites that match organisations to local people. Go online, register (it only requires an email address, nothing more) and search where you can donate your skills and time. Arts festivals, gardening, caring for people, activities with youngsters in needs. Make this the year of someone else. Click here to see what's in your area. Also check Seek’s volunteering site for ideas and local opportunities.


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