Almost one in three volunteer

By Tara O'Halloran

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Hospice Shop volunteer Betty Judd has been on the job for 30 years. Photo / John Stone
Hospice Shop volunteer Betty Judd has been on the job for 30 years. Photo / John Stone

Northlanders are some of the most generous with volunteering their time in New Zealand.

The region has one of the highest percentage of people who volunteer, with an estimated 47,000 of the roughly 152,000 Northlanders regularly getting out in their communities.

Bart van der Meer, manager of Volunteering Northland, said an "amazing number" of hours are volunteered with each volunteer working around four hours per week. This week is Volunteer Week but, despite the high number of volunteers Northland has, he said there is still a need for more people to get out there and help their community.

"There are so many non-profit organisations that people don't know about. There is always a need for new volunteers."

Mr van der Meer said volunteers play a huge role in the community.

"Without volunteers, a lot of services will come to a standstill - not just schools or sports organisations, St John and environmental organisations, even the Fire Service."

There are high numbers of volunteers in Kaitaia and Kaikohe, according to Mr van der Meer who said he wouldn't be surprised if they had a higher average than the rest of Northland. He said there are a number of reasons why it is important to get out there and donate your time, and one of these is a social factor.

Betty Judd, aged 91, has been volunteering her time with the Whangarei Hospice for 30 years and said she will continue as long as she can. "I like to help out the community and to get out and meet new people."

Mrs Judd began volunteering with her husband at the doctor's house in Maunu when there was only one patient. When the Hospice Shop opened 15 years ago, she began volunteering her time there where she now spends every Monday morning.

Hospice Shop volunteers whom the Northern Advocate spoke to yesterday said they love the friendships they make, and one of the main reasons that they volunteer with Hospice New Zealand is it is "payback time", as a lot of them have had cancer or have benefited from Hospice services.

Retail manager of Whangarei Hospice Shop Kathy McMillan said there are around 300 people who volunteer their time weekly and more are needed. The shop's volunteers range in age from 14 to 97.

Mr van der Meer said a third of the people who look to volunteer in Northland are under 30 and using volunteering as a way to connect to their community.

As part of a nationwide Volunteer Week, Volunteering Northland will be holding stalls in Whangarei and Kaitaia to show people some of the opportunities they have to volunteer in the north.

Over the week, 12 CEOs and business people throughout the region will be giving up their time to volunteer at local services as part of the I Dare You challenge. Those taking part in the challenge include CEO of Refining NZ, Sjoerd Post, editor of the Northern Advocate, Craig Cooper and CEO of Whangarei District Council, Rob Forlong.

- Northern Advocate

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