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clock icon8 August 2023

Fair Honours Collective Contributions of Volunteers

To mark National Volunteering Week, Volunteering Northland held their inaugural Whangārei Volunteer Fair

volunteering northland whangarei volunteer fair photos

Story by Janine Duncan, Volunteering Northland

To mark National Volunteering Week, Volunteering Northland held their inaugural Whangārei Volunteer Fair on the 24th of June at the Whangārei Central Library.

This year’s theme was ’Standing on the Shoulders of Our Ancestors – Kaimahi Aroha in Our Communities’; aiming to celebrate volunteering and acknowledge volunteers and organisations for their selfless hard work, time and dedication. By uniting community organisations in one space, Volunteering Northland aimed to showcase the variety of opportunities available in Whangarei and help attendees connect with a meaningful cause.

Following a karakia by Matua Fred Tito, the atmosphere was lively and vibrant with a great public presence. Numerous volunteers welcomed visitors of all ages and provided assistance finding the right cause to support, as 33 organisations were represented. Community groups ranged from the conservation, education, retail, arts, cultural and youth sectors to migrant, social services and health and disability providers. All were freely available to engage with the general public, providing a platform to promote and raise awareness about their various causes, services and potential volunteering opportunities.

To give visitors an insight into different types of volunteering, each organisation was encouraged to provide a micro-volunteering activity relating to their cause. Ranging from colouring in get well cards, to icing cupcakes and sorting e-waste; these short five minute activities supported the work of the organisations while highlighting that volunteering doesn’t necessarily involve a large investment in time.

The fun and family friendly event sported a whole range of entertainment: a sausage sizzle run by the Tutukaka Coast and Whangarei Lions Clubs as well as door and activity prizes, a colouring in station and a variety of musical, dance and circus acts ran continuously. Performances from Fale Pasifica Dance Academy, Sistema Whangarei, Circus Kumarani, Star Jam and What the Folk? Whangarei kept everyone entertained; while informative presentations from various organisations ensured there was something of interest for all ages.

To celebrate National Volunteer Week, 46 volunteers were acknowledged in a ceremony emceed by Volunteering Northland youth trustee Camerson Matheson. Nominated by their respective organisations; each recipient received an award in one of the five different categories: general, youth, long service, teams and innovation. Whangarei Mayor Vince Cocurullo and Volunteering Northland Chairperson and Councillor Nicholas Connop made the presentations. The occasion was fittingly closed with a karakia by Matua Fred Tito.

Overall, the event was very well perceived by the general public. ‘We really enjoyed the fun atmosphere and would love to see it held again’, said one of the visitors. ‘I am really surprised how many great community organisations exist. It makes you realise how many enthusiastic people in our community do amazing work.’

Due to the event’s success and wonderful public feedback; Jessie Manney, Manager of Volunteering Northland, reports the event will be held again on a larger scale and planning is already in progress.

Many thanks to all those involved in ensuring the fair was such a seamless, well run occasion.