This week is National Volunteer Week where all around the country our 1.2 million volunteers are celebrated. This year's theme is "whiria te tangata - weaving the people together". Volunteering, Mahi Aroha and social action weave people and communities together as we stand together in our differences and choose to connect. Northland has the highest rate of volunteering in New Zealand. Around 37 per cent of the adult population volunteer for about four hours per week on average, according to Volunteering Northland. More information, including how to volunteer, can be found at or

Today we feature another of our amazing volunteers and send out our thanks to everybody who gives some of their time to help others in our community.

Northland's volunteers, we salute you all.

You're never too old to care and help others, and it's something Whangārei woman Doreen Alexander knows well.


Aged 100, Doreen is still volunteering at the Hospice Shop in Whangārei and reckons it helps keep her young.

Besides, the sprightly Centenarian jokes, if she wasn't there to keep the rest of the people at the Hospice Shop in line chaos could ensue.

And that's just what she does, as well as keeping everybody happy, entertained and inspired, Hospice retail manager Kathy McMillan said.

''She's just wonderful and has such a great sense of humour. The customers love her and we just love her being herself,'' McMillan said.

''She's great with the customers and she has her regulars who come in just to see her on Mondays. She's also been a regular at the Growers Market on Saturday mornings - she's such a great volunteer. Her contribution is immense and she's such an inspiration.''

Doreen has been volunteering at the Hospice Shop since May 2001, but has been volunteering ''ever since I gave up work''.

She started volunteering at Hospice after having a friend go thorough its palliative services and seeing the outstanding job the organisation does.

''I just wanted to give something back. I love coming her and it gives me something to do. It keeps me young,'' Doreen said.


She was born in Whangārei, and has lived in the city all her life, and Doreen said the best part about volunteering is being able to give something back to her community.

She said she's an example that you are never too old to do something for others and volunteering gives her a real sense of purpose and she's sure others will get a lot out of giving up some of their own time to help people.

Doreen Alexander has regular customers who come to see her when she works on Mondays at Whangarei's Hospice Shop. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Doreen Alexander has regular customers who come to see her when she works on Mondays at Whangarei's Hospice Shop. Photo / Michael Cunningham

''One of my regular customers (who had made her a birthday cake previously) was going to make my 100th cake, but sadly she broke her wrist so couldn't do it. That's the appreciation you get.''

In these days when everybody seemed to be busy and rushing Doreen said taking some time out to do something good would help people cope with their busy lives as volunteering gave so much pleasure, both to the volunteer and those they helped.

''I love it here. I just get such a nice feeling from helping out and knowing you've been able to make a contribution.''

Doreen turned 100 on Thursday and there will be two celebrations for her today at the Badminton Hall, in Whangārei and then Hospice will have its own celebration with her on Monday while the Whangārei Labour Party, of which Doreen is a life member, will hold another birthday bash for her on Thursday.

That's a lot of birthday wishes, but Doreen's looking forward to receiving them all.