Office-bound Northland workers have left their desks over this week for a day in the life as a volunteer.

The week-long I Dare You challenge is an initiative of Volunteer New Zealand for National Volunteer Week. Twelve businesses allowed their workers to help with local services in Northland.

Kathryn Ross, general manager strategic planning and policy with Far North District Council, was "loaned" to Hospice MidNorthland. It was her first experience as a volunteer, the result of an approach by Hospice to target those at managerial level.

"It's been a revelation to find out how many elements are involved to make Hospice tick," Ms Ross said. "It could be working in the shop that generates income for the organisation, or tinkering with cars to keep the fleet going or just baking cakes."


Around New Zealand there are an estimated 1.2 million volunteers. Hospice Midnorthland's territory covers Taupo Bay in the north to Towai in the south, and between both coasts. They have a roster of 280 active volunteers from a larger pool of 400 available.

Carol Price, manager of volunteer services with Hospice MidNorthland, says they are running a pilot programme to encourage younger volunteers to enlist.

"We're going to schools to talk to students about hospice care and we're getting a good response from that," she said.

While FNDC does not have a scheme allowing staff to take a day off to work as volunteers, it promotes a volunteer award. The Far North District Council Citizen Award is now open for nominations and will close on July 13.

Whangarei District Council CEO Rob Forlong praised the work of local volunteers as he got out into the community and offered his time to one of the many organisations in the community run by volunteers.

"We have got some phenomenal volunteers in the district." he said.

Mr Forlong spent Tuesday afternoon at the Quarry Arts Centre in Whangarei doing office work and looking at their strategic plan.