For National Volunteer Week 2021, Tania Jones, Chair of Volunteering New Zealand, shared her thoughts on the future of volunteering.

“I want to first recognise and acknowledge all volunteers around Aotearoa. No matter how you contribute, connect and give your time, we see you. We recognise and acknowledge your mahi, your service. Your gifts of time, of aroha, of effort. We thank you, while we celebrate National Volunteer Week 2021 – Te Wiki Tūao ā-Motu.”

Tania says the future of volunteering continues to change. Changes are obvious especially in the recruitment of volunteers, access to funding, and differences among regions since the pandemic.

“Change presents different challenges across the sector, but also highlights unique opportunities for reshaping and improving the practice of volunteering.”

To suit the changing landscape of volunteering, especially since the pandemic, Tania suggested the sector needed to reimagine the frame of volunteering.

“The future of volunteering in New Zealand needs to be one where the contribution of volunteers is no longer invisible, no longer discussed as a nice to have but actually where volunteering is recognised as delivering vital services, as well as protecting the wellbeing of our society.”

“The future of volunteering will need to be underpinned by a sector-led National Volunteering Strategy embraced by all central government parties, which influences policy development and service delivery decisions in all portfolios.”

Tania says in Aotearoa we are fortunate that more than half of our population is involved in volunteering and social related actions to support organisations.

She says volunteering has different names and guises because there is a difference between each of us, depending on our backgrounds, whanau, age, gender and where we belong.

“People are at the heart of this. People connecting to others. People are at the heart of all volunteering and mahi aroha, whatever form it takes. We are united by our shared histories of aroha, manaakitanga, small acts of kindness and connection through and within our communities.”

Tania concludes:

‘He aha te mea nui o tenei ao? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata’

(What is the most important thing in this world? It’s people, it’s people, it’s people.)

Click the play button to watch the full speech from Tania