Kaitiakitanga in Action – Students Strike for a Safe Climate Future

School students all across the country are striking to urge action on climate change. Volunteering New Zealand interviewed two organisers of the strikes.

On March 15th, school students across the nation will strike for climate action. They are supported by parents, teachers, environmental researchers and the Children’s Commissioner.

Young people around the world are showing incredible leadership on the issue of climate change. The strike is an example of active citizenship, and a demonstration that young people are prepared to face up to the defining issue of their generation.

The strikes take place in the lead up to Student Volunteer Week. Our focus this year is Kaitiakitanga, the guardianship of our environment. Student volunteers are instrumental to this guardianship, and are at the forefront of advocating for environmental protection and carbon neutrality. Student Volunteer Week is an opportunity to celebrate student volunteering and encourage more opportunities to join the volunteering movement. The students striking this week, just like other young environmental volunteers across the nation, exemplify Kaitiakitanga in action. Find out how to get involved in Student Volunteer Week here.

We reached out to two organisers of the strikes, Sophie Handford, and Molly Doyle, to share their perspectives on the strike, kaitiakitanga, and how to create positive change. We hope their words can offer support motivation to other young people working to ensure a healthy and livable planet.

Sophie Handford – National Coordinator

Q What motivated you to organise these strikes?

I want a safe and secure future for not only my generation but generations to come. I think that we have a real chance here to take control of the conversation around our future. We are the ones who will inherit this earth. We deserve to have a say about the kind of future we have, which at this stage could be non-existent unless we stand up and show the politicians how important this is to us

Q Why is kaitiakitanga important to you?

I think the word kaitiakitanga represents something so crucial. So often, I feel like we fall into the trap of thinking this earth is ‘ours’ and we fail to understand the role we must play in our relationship with the earth. We must act as its guardian so we can give others the opportunity to do the same.

Q What advidce could you give to other students trying to make a positive impact?

The advice I would give is to take that first step! Once you get started, it becomes so much easier. There will be roadblocks along the way that you’ll encounter but envisage the positive impact you want to have and just keep that front of mind. Don’t give up!

Molly Doyle, National Committee Member

Q What motivated you to organise these strikes?

Our earth is precious – it’s our home. And I want to retain its beauty. I want to know the oceans are clean without plastic. I want to know the air we breathe is not polluted.

And I want it to stay beautiful for future generations. These strikes are the start of our generations move to a cleaner more sustainable future.

We have the ability to educate our generation about the impacts of climate change. We have the ability to show higher levels of power that we do care, and we value our environment. We have the chance to get together to make a positive impact.

Q Why is kaitiakitanga important to you?

Growing up in such a beautiful country I’ve learned that I am always appreciative of my natural surroundings. I see great value in looking after what we currently have. No matter where you are in the world you have a given responsibility to keep the environment clean. I can’t emphasize how important kaitiakitanga should be for these living generations. We are currently walking blind eye into a future that doesn’t hold the environmental capability of looking after us. We need to reverse that conception of the future, and know that we do care, and we will demonstrate everything in our power to be the change we want to see.

Q What advidce could you give to other students trying to make a positive impact?

My advice would have to be the change you want to see. I don’t see a positive future if people are still relying on others to make the difference. You really have to gain consciousness for your surroundings and seek to learn the impacts of your current actions.

We have the ability to make this change, so go out and do it!

University and Tertiary Sport NZ – Liam’s Bio

Liam Hurst is a Massey University Bachelor of Sport and Exercise graduate. Much of Liam’s volunteering activity stems from his passion for sport and conservation. At high school, Liam began helping the Kiwi Conservation Club, planning trips and activities for children and family groups in the outdoors. Sporting-wise his management and organisation skills have been used in jobs as varied as marshalling and traffic control to timekeeping, social media planning, volunteer recruitment and coaching. Much of his work has been for high schools competing in national secondary schools tournaments and his university. His involvement has benefitted road cycling, adventure racing, volleyball and football to name a few sports.


As a high school student what made you put your hand up to get involved in conservation causes?

My family had a large influence on my participation in conservation. When I was young I spent a lot of time in the outdoors and regularly went tramping and camping which helped to develop my passion for the environment and conservation.

What is your favourite volunteer activity and why?

I love volunteering at sport events. Especially helping out at secondary school competitions, in particular, adventure racing. I get a buzz out of being able to coach and guide people to be able to map read, abseil, kayak, mountain bike or anything else that they need.

What’s your favourite organisation that you have volunteered for and why?

Cycling New Zealand. As a part of my university degree, I had a placement helping organise the 50th anniversary of the NZ Schools Road Cycling Champs. I had a major role in the competition and was able to really immerse myself in the management of the event. I learnt a lot about the practical delivery of my event which directly related to my degree.

So, why give up so much of your free time to enable sporting events for others? What’s in it for you?

The satisfaction of knowing you helped out at an event or competition is what really drives me. I enjoy being able to help people accomplish their goals and if that makes them happy, then I’m happy!

When it’s wet or cold or you face event issues or team crises, do you wish you had said no to helping? What fuels you?

It’s very rare for everything to go to plan, so when things go wrong you just have to take a deep breath and remind yourself that bad things don’t last forever. I never really feel like I should’ve said no but that’s not to say I haven’t had my fair share of difficult situations. Looking back on them I realise that they were great learning points and have enabled me to develop myself to be a better, more experienced person.

Can you recall and describe a moment where you thought ‘this is all totally worth it’?

Guiding junior teams in adventure races is extremely rewarding. Not only because they are able to accomplish something amazing by completing a race, but also because of the landscape, views and memories that you get to experience during a race. There was one race where we made it up onto the top of a mountain range and the view was incredible. It’s times like these that remind you why you do it.

If you were to pitch the skills you’ve learned through volunteering to a potential employer what would you say?

I have learned a lot through volunteering. Communication skills, time management, sponsorship proposals, safety planning, people management, teamwork, leadership. The list goes on! 

This is a chance to communicate with people around NZ who perhaps haven’t volunteered before – what is your takeaway message for them?

Honestly, just do it. Find a sport or event that interests you, maybe grab a few friends and sign up! You won’t regret helping other people and you never know what you’ll get out of it. You’ll meet new people, learn new skills, and it looks great on your CV!


University and Tertiary Sport NZ – Amelia’s Bio

Student Volunteer with UTSNZ, Amelia Morgan, talks about what got her into volunteering and what she gets out of it.

Amelia Morgan is a fourth-year University of Canterbury Law and Geography student. Amelia started volunteering during high school as a Duke of Edinburgh award participant and continued as a school sports prefect, sports rep at her university hall of residence and helping groups such as the UC Student Volunteer Army, UC Sport and a Student-Athlete Commission for University and Tertiary Sport NZ. Amelia was one of two NZ reps that attended the 2017 FISU Volunteer Leader’s Academy in Russia. Amelia is a student-athlete herself, having represented for track and field.

You started volunteering at a young age – what drove you to do it?

Truthfully, volunteering feels like a selfish act. From a younger age, it has generated copious amounts of self-satisfaction and warmth when helping others. For a long time, I was unable to give as much as I would’ve liked to volunteering organisations alike. However due to my step back in track and field I have been able to give my time more freely. There is no denying the satisfaction generated when pouring your heart and soul into something and it pays off or you witness someone truly benefit from the efforts. Thereby, in all honesty it is this feeling that drove me to volunteer and give back from a younger age.

How did volunteering help shape who you are today?

Volunteering and involvement with volunteer-based organisations has enabled me to appreciate and truly understand the amount of hard work, time and resource put into any event or organisation. I have learned the importance of delegation if you want to achieve projects to a high standard and the need for clear communication to facilitate this. Meaningful communication, and connection with those you are working with ensures that the group of volunteers function to their best ability and actually enjoy the task at hand.

You help so many different organisations in so many different ways – which has been the most fulfilling moment for you? Why?

Being a student-athlete myself, working for sporting organisations to empower and enhance student-athletes’ overall health and wellbeing has been incredibly rewarding. I have been working closely with UC Sport and their recently established Student-Athlete Development Programme. This has been a close passion of mine, as it highlights and emphasises the importance of creating a community-based culture for student-athletes at the University of Canterbury.

There is no doubt I tend to favour sport volunteering and sports administration when compared to other areas. This is due to my undying passion for sports and athletes alike, the commitment and work ethic required to be an athlete has driven me to want to help these athletes and completions run as smoothly as possible.

If you were to pitch the skills you’ve learned through volunteering to a potential employer what would you say?

A key learning, I took away from FVLA 2017 was about the volunteer movement and the significant value of volunteers in the sporting world today.  Great emphasis was given to the fact that although volunteers are often perceived as ‘free labour’ and the lower tier of a sporting event or competition, they are in fact the backbone of any success, and if the volunteers are not happy and motivated, the event will lack real success and enjoyment for all of those involved.

For any event or sporting need, planning is essential for success. Athletes, coaches, management and volunteers alike perform better when things flow and day-to-day activity is planned in detail.

You were identified as a volunteer leader in 2017 – what do you hope to see in the student volunteer space in 2018?

I have diversified my time a little bit this year which truly excites me. I have become more heavily involved with the University of Canterbury’s club scene and have earned an executive position on one of the largest social clubs on campus. This is an exciting challenge I have set for myself to give my time to something completely different. This has been very rewarding so far as I have been able to throw myself into the complex administration involved in hosting major social events and recruiting paid members during the new academic year.

I have maintained my involvement with UC Sport and UTSNZ during 2018. I hope to continue learning from the incredible board members of UTSNZ and get a true understanding of the complexities of this entity. I hope to continue developing the student-athlete community we are trying to establish at UC Sport, and am looking forward to being a part of the leadership group within this academy.

Amelia Morgan (left) representing NZ at the FISU Volunteer Leaders Academy

Visit University and Tertiary Sport NZ’s website to learn more about their amazing work.


Girl Guiding New Zealand – Ruby’s Bio

Check out what Ruby, one of GirlGuiding New Zealand’s fantastic student volunteers, has to say about being a volunteer in their organisation.

My name is Ruby, and I volunteer with GirlGuiding New Zealand. I’ve had many opportunities within GirlGuiding that have developed skills that align with my Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and International Relations at Victoria University. One of my personal highlights was attending the High-Level Political Forum at the United Nations in 2017 as part of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. I was able to do this because GirlGuiding has consultative status with the United Nations. I was also able to advocate to World Leaders on the Sustainable Development Goals and meet with the New Zealand Ambassador to the United Nations in New York. Furthermore, these amazing experiences contribute towards the Victoria International Leadership Program, that I am a part of.

I’ve been involved in GirlGuiding NZ since I moved to Wellington and it has been a great way for me to make friends in a new city and be active in the community. I began as a Leader in a Guide unit (girls aged 9-12) in Kelburn. It was really rewarding because I could see the girls develop as we did different activities and, as I grew in confidence, I was able to run more activities and develop my own leadership skills.

My favourite activity was when we went to a sleepover at the zoo. It was really fun and an experience I’ll never forget. The girls learnt about conservation, how to protect endangered species and were even given the opportunity to help feed the animals.

Every new leader is assigned a mentor. My mentor was really helpful when I was new to my unit and answered any questions I had. She has continued to support me further developing my leadership skills and challenging myself to take on different roles within GirlGuiding New Zealand.  I now coordinate the Young Leaders in the Wellington Region. I support them when they start and ensure they feel comfortable in their roles.

GirlGuiding has been around for 110 years, and it remains a revolutionary organisation supporting girls and Leaders to develop their potential and challenge themselves in a supportive environment. Around Wellington, girls aged 5-17, meet once a week during school term-time in groups according to their age. These girls need new volunteers to get involved, so GirlGuiding can continue running its programs for years to come.

There are heaps of different ways to be involved in GirlGuiding. You can make a weekly commitment to a unit of girls, or you can be a volunteer on a casual basis. You can also volunteer as a coordinator of other volunteers or offer a particular skill that you are interested in.

Ruby is studying at BA in Political Science and International Relations at Victoria University while volunteering.

Republished with permission from GirlGuiding New Zealand. Visit www.girlguidingnz.org.nz for more.

From Intern to Employee – Aliesha Singh

Aliesha Singh joined Volunteering New Zealand as a communications intern over the summer. She has since graduated and has a paid role at Ministry for Women. Aliesha shares her experience with interning and how that has helped her grow valuable skills.

My experience interning was definitive in my understanding of how to navigate the workplace and the idea of the workplace as a fun and collaborative environment. I joined Volunteering New Zealand as part of my internship paper at Massey University. I was excited about the opportunities interning would bring and I was fortunate to find that the organisation opened the door to each one.

At my internship I had the freedom to share and pursue my ideas and gained valuable experiences through projects I would not have otherwise got to work on. The projects that I worked on involved collaborating with staff at all levels, including senior management, and that proved to be an important lesson in professional discourse in the workplace.

Despite the fact that I was an intern, I felt like my ideas were heard and that I was a part of a receptive environment that valued differing opinions regardless of the status of the employee that provides it.

While my internship was fun it was also challenging and there was never a shortage of tasks to be completed. Because of this, I was taught a crucial lesson on how to manage my time by prioritising tasks in order to meet deadlines. Since beginning to interview for jobs, I am often asked about my proficiency in time management and I can confidently talk about how interning prepared me for working to a deadline.

As a recent graduate, I truly believe that my internship has given me an edge in entering and navigating the workforce. The experiences that I gained and lessons that I learnt during my interning have instilled confidence in my abilities that I would not have otherwise had.

Aliesha and Ione at the VNZ offices

Student Volunteer Week 2018 Webinar

Student Volunteer Week – Volunteering to Learn

Volunteering New Zealand is hosting a series of 30-minute episodes delivering a mixture of presentation and conversation style information. Our guest presenters will be speaking to local and international speakers as they explore topics on volunteering to help you better lead, manage and develop your volunteer workforce.

Just in time for Student Volunteer Week, the first speaker is Professor Kirsten Holmes of Curtin University.

In this seminar, we will consider what factors contribute to successful student volunteer programmes.

The Volunteering to Learn study was the first to examine all perspectives involved in university student volunteering. These include the students, universities, program managers, host organisations and voluntary sector peak bodies to enable successful outcomes for all.

This is an amazing opportunity to hear Kirsten speaking on this topic and, best of all, it’s absolutely free!



When: 1.30 pm, Thursday 19 April
Where: Your desk-top, phone or tablet
Fee: FREE!! Because it’s Student Volunteer Week

Click here to Register!

Student Volunteer Week 2017 – Highlights

For ideas on how to have a successful Student Volunteer Week this year, here are some of our
highlights from last year!

“Voluntinder” – volunteer matching event

“Which volunteer role will capture your heart?” @unicrewotago

The University of Otago created a volunteering Tinder to match students with organisations needing volunteers. This fun and eye-catching display immediately creates impact and promotes that there is a perfect volunteer match out there for students.

Volunteer Expos

What could be better than finding a match on VolunTinder?! Getting to cuddle kittens IRL!! Here’s a photo from a Volunteer expo held at The University of Canterbury last year. Holding an expo for students to meet and speak to representatives from organisations seeking volunteers is a great way for schools to get involved. Volunteering Canterbury is holding one at UC again this year!

Cuteness at a Volunteer Expo at University of Canterbury


Sharing Volunteer Stories

Last year Girl Guiding NZ shared stories and photos from some of their many student volunteers on Instagram and Facebook. Promoting real-life examples of volunteer work is such a great way to encourage others to think about how they can contribute too! If you’re a student volunteer, share photos and stories on social media, tag your organisations and @volunteeringnz and use the hashtag #SVW2018.

Student Volunteer Katie from Girl Guiding NZ

Student Volunteer Kathy from Girl Guiding NZ

If you’re an organisation, highlighting the amazing contribution student volunteers make is one of the best ways to celebrate and encourage others to join in.

Creative ways to use our graphics

Check out our resources page on where you can download posters, logos and much more, to help promote Student Volunteer Week 2018 at your school, university or organisation. We’ve written a resource guide with tips and tricks. 

Here’s an example of how they were used last year!

Netball New Zealand thanks their volunteers for #SVW2017


So go ahead, get planning, and don’t forget to let us know what you’re up to!

Social Media Tips for Volunteer Organisations

How are you promoting Student Volunteer Week within your organisation?

Whether you’re planning an event, undertaking student-focused projects, or running a recruitment drive for volunteers, one of the best ways to showcase this is by posting on social media.

Social media can help you reach a new audience of potential volunteers. Check out our tips for making the most of your social media presence:

  • Post visual content: photos, illustrations, info-graphics, and videos. You could even stream live video on Facebook showing a volunteer project or a ‘Behind-The-Scenes’ of your organisation. This helps people see what you’re all about.
  • Use the hashtag #SVW2018 in your posts. Anyone searching that tag will see your content and learn more about your good work. Remember to tag us @VolunteeringNZ so we can share your posts too!
  • Use other hashtags that are relevant, such as #animals #volunteer #forest #healthcare.
  • Tag the participants or local leaders of your community.
  • Encourage your student volunteers to post what they are doing or what volunteering means to them!
  • Know your audience. Take a quick look at who follows your account and tailor your posts to speak to them.
  • Empower your fans. Don’t forget to reply to a comment or two. Having a conversation and encouraging your existing supporters is just as important as gaining new ones.
  • The sooner the better. Time is of the essence and you’ll reach a larger audience if you start posting sooner and more frequently.
  • Share relevant posts from other pages. Promoting the work of others is a great way to show appreciation, become part of the conversation, and gives you more content.
  • Lost on what to say? Use quotes from inspirational leaders or stories from your volunteers.
  • Need graphics? We’ve got resources all ready to go for you to use, read our guide for more tips. 
  • If you’re holding an event, promote it! Add a link to your event in your posts, this is a great way to get your events out there and recruit more volunteers.
  • If you want volunteers, just ask! It’s amazing what a simple appeal for a helping hand can do. 
  • Most importantly, keep it up! Regularly posting is a great way to keep your social media momentum and your followers up to date on what you’re doing.

We can’t wait to see what you get up to!

Need any help? Email lucy@volunteeringnz.org.nz.