It’s National Volunteer Week!

Department of Conservation —  23/06/2022

We’re celebrating some of the awesome volunteers around the country who’re digging in for conservation. From us to you: thank you. By the Department of Conservation.

Shovels in the back of a ute
📷: Melissa Reid DOC

It’s National Volunteer Week/Te Wiki Tūao ā-Motu, and this year the theme is Time to Shine/He wā whakawhiti.

Volunteering could involve data collection, design, publicity, event organisation, planting and restoration, track building, project planning, weed eradication, hut maintenance, pest control, and media work. 

Volunteer planting
📷: Melissa Reid DOC 

There are so many ways to take action for nature, and we want to profile some of our awesome volunteers. 

Here are a handful of local legends. 

Steve from Back Country Trust

Steve makes things happen when it comes to huts. He and fellow volunteers worked magic on huts like Colenso, Mitre Flats, and Herepai. 

He says, “I’m a carpenter by trade and a keen hunter, so volunteering with the Back country trust was an awesome opportunity for me to give back to the community. 

Volunteering is fulfilling because of the pride you feel from giving to others, achieving an awesome outcome with an even more awesome group of people and seeing the finished work.” 

Herepai hut being painted
📷: Megan Dimozantos via The Back Country Trust Facebook 

Steve says, “It is my hope that funding and volunteers continue to give back to Aotearoa to help preserve Nature and the Huts we experienced growing up for future generations.” 

See some of Steve’s mahi and learn how to pitch in here: 

Margaret and Charlotte at Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre

Margaret loves the quiet and peacefulness of the Pūkaha ngahere, the only sound is bird charm and says life here is much better than in Sydney, where she’s from.  

They’re currently working on weeding African club moss that is starting to cover the floor of one of our yellow crown kākāriki aviarys. 

A titipounamou/rifleman at Pūkaha Mt Bruce
📷: © Leon Berard

Margaret and Charlotte say, it’s always satisfying to see the before and after of volunteering work.  

“You feel like you are making a difference. A wildlife centre like Pūkaha relies on the goodwill and mahi of local volunteers. If you’re local to the Wairarapa and keen to do your part for our native manu (bird) and species, we might have a role here to suit you.” 

Head to to learn more.  

Cherry Tapurua from the Back Country Trust

Megan Dimozantos (L) and Cherry Tapurua (R)
📷: supplied

Cherry says: “I got involved because I could not bear the look of that poor broken-down old whare making my Tupuna Ruahine look ugly. And I fell head over heels in love with the space.” 

Recently, Cherry was working restoring the A Frame Hut at Takapari Road Track. 

“It’s a privilege as New Zealanders to have the luxury to fish, hunt, walk, hike, and camp the sacred ngahere and maunga of Aotearoa. What I learnt doing this project is it’s not just the huts that I would say the minority of people don’t respect it is the very whenua that has been disrespected. Without the whenua you don’t have a hut.” 

Cherry’s husband using a power drill
📷: supplied

If you want to learn about the restoration work Back Country Trust have been doing to care for our whenua, see:   

Anthony from the Manaaki Ruahine Trust

Anthony Behrens with loppers and his other pine pulling gear 
📷: Manaaki Ruahine Trust

Anthony Behrens is currently working on a project pulling pines and maintaining traps and traplines in the Ruahine Forest Park. 

From Anthony: “we started [pulling pines] when the seedlings were pullable, so it seemed doable. We pulled about 10,000 before they got too big, and now we have to cut them but it’s overwhelming. There are about 100,000 seedlings that are now about three meters high…a chopper to spray them would be good.” 

Wilding Pines in Southland to give you an idea of the problem
📷: Peter Willemse DOC

If someone at home is thinking of volunteering, Anthony quips, “as that well-known shoe company says … just do it.” 

To learn about volunteering opportunities in around the country, head here:  

Brett a volunteer DOC Hut Warden

Brett cleaning a hut door
📷: supplied

Brett says, “After tramping for over 40 years I wanted to give something back to DOC after they had given me so many days and nights of comfortable and safe accommodation. 

“The thrill of being a DOC Hut Warden is seeing the joy in the trampers faces as they enter a clean and warm safe hut after a gruelling tramp.” 

Sunrise hut, a hut Brett volunteers at
📷: Jack Mace DOC

Brett says, “I have always found trampers are a kind, respectful and appreciative group, and it’s these qualities that makes the role of being a hut warden extremely rewarding.” 

To see our volunteer hut warden vacancies, you can search the opportunities on our website. At the time of writing, there are ten volunteer hut warden opportunities listed, in places like Banks Peninsula, Mount Somers, Mueller Hut and Tararua Forest park. 

Jenny at Central Energy Trust Wildbase Recovery Centre

Jenny at work with her host pass on
📷: Central Energy Trust Wildbase Recovery Centre

When asked why she started volunteering, Jenny said, “I was at a loose end after being made redundant and someone mentioned that Wildbase Recovery was looking for volunteers. I was lucky enough to be invited to join the team and have learnt so much. 

It gives me a good interest and I have learnt so much about our native wildlife. It has changed the way I go on holiday as I now choose to do things relating to wildlife and the environment.” 

Central Energy Trust Wildbase Recovery Centre have two resident red-crowned kākāriki
📷: (c) Sabine Bernert

Jenny says that Wildbase has a range of roles available for volunteers, like cleaning and feeding the patients or interacting with the public. 

“It doesn’t matter which role you choose, you will still learn so much from some amazing people.”  

To learn more about Wildbase, head to:  

Janet and Kate from the Ruahine Whio Protectors 

Janet Wilson (L) and Kate Proctor (R) crossing the Oroua river on a trap line check
📷: supplied

Kate is enthusiastic about native birds and wants to make a difference. 

She says, “It would be devastating for me to watch all of these amazing birds go extinct (due to pests) and never come back.  I wanted to help try to make New Zealand a better place for our endangered wildlife. 

“When my mum showed me an article by Janet in the newspaper (about 3 years ago) about the Ruahine Whio Protector group asking for more volunteers, I leaped at the chance to be part of the group, as I wanted to help make a difference for our wildlife.” 

Side profile of a whio in the Ruahine Ranges
📷: Anthony Behrens (yes, the Anthony mentioned earlier in this blog)

Talking about how she got started with Ruahine Whio Protectors, Janet Wilson says, “I started because there was a job that needed doing and I had some time I felt I could put to good use volunteering. NZ runs on volunteers and if the hills and rivers are your happy place too then have a go at trap line maintenance, which is an excellent way to get out and keep fit while helping our biodiversity survive and hopefully thrive.  

The best part – the wonderful willing, positive and motivated people I have had the pleasure to meet and spend time within the hills.” 

To read up on the mahi the Ruahine Whio Protectors are doing, head to  

At the end of the day 

Volunteers getting their hands dirty at Stewart Island Community Native Plant Nursery
📷: DOC

These are just a handful of the awesome volunteers all over the country who are taking action for nature. 

To be honest, lots of volunteers were very camera shy, and just wanted to do their mahi without fuss. To those shy volunteers, and to those who are loud and proud: thank you. 

You do awesome work. 

2 responses to It’s National Volunteer Week!

    Peter Hallinan 23/06/2022 at 5:11 pm

    Think I may be the last volunteer standing for DOC’s Seal Watch Kaikoura. I’d love you to prove me wrong! If interested contact Jemima Rodden at DOC’s Kaikoura Field Base.


      Hi there. I would like to find out more about your volunteer program. Thanks very much