Calling all New Zealanders to make a "world of difference"!
A nationwide quest for people who want to help others has thrown up a major gap between the islands - with North Islanders appearing to be three times more passionate than South Islanders about making a difference for worthy causes.
The Vodafone New Zealand Foundation's flagship 'World of Difference' programme launched on July 11, 2005, gives people the chance to work for a year, for causes dear to their hearts.
With less than two weeks to go for Kiwis to enter, Foundation Chairman Neil Porteous says the response to the World of Difference programme shows there is a rich vein of passionate people in New Zealand with a real desire to make a difference in their communities and beyond.
The statistics also show New Zealand women as being more willing to "make a difference" with three times more women entering compared with their male counterparts.
The annual World of Difference programme, which is now in its fourth year, is one of a kind. It gives up to six people each year the opportunity to work for their favourite cause for 12 months, with their salaries and expenses paid by the Foundation. The investment is upwards of half a million dollars.
Since 2002, 14 people have taken on a wide variety of challenges in far-flung parts of the globe and at home. This has ranged from spending a year helping dispense aid in war-ravaged countries and at sites of terrorist attacks, to helping save endangered species in New Zealand.
Six amazing people are currently making a real difference to New Zealand. Tracey Richardson from Hawkes Bay is helping children with cystic fibrosis to participate in physical activities and Ricky Houghton is assisting Northland families with issues that fall outside government agency and iwi service provision, such as teaching horticultural and economic skills.
The other 2004 winners are working in the areas of biomedical treatment of autism, conservation of the kiwi, sexual orientation and gender identity in schools and art therapy as a form of expressing feelings for children with cancer.
Vodafone also encourages its employees to demonstrate their 'niceness' by enabling them to share their talents and passion in the community. This year a new initiative - the 'mini World of Difference programme' has been established for Vodafone people.
At least three employees will get to spend up to one month on full pay working with one of the VNZF's existing partner charities. These include the Royal New Zealand Foundation for The Blind, the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust, Project K and the Spirit of Adventure Trust.
Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Helen Clark has offered her support of this year's World of Difference programme and encourages New Zealanders to enter.
"The World of Difference programme supports a diverse range of charities and community causes, and lives up to its name by making a real difference to the lives that are touched by the winners, " says Ms Clark.
The Foundation is passionate about enriching young people's lives, taking care of the environment and backing programmes that improve everyone's access to communications technology.
For those Kiwis who have yet to show their nice side, there are just two weeks to go! The World of Difference programme is the perfect opportunity to prove to everyone that you are definitely one of New Zealand's nice people.
People can enter the 2005 World of Difference programme by visiting the VNZF website: http://www.vodafonenzfoundation.co.nz and completing the online entry form. Deadline for entries for is August 21, 2005.
For more information on the World of Difference programme or to see the inspiring 21/2 minute documentary of past winners' projects by New Zealand film-maker Rob Harley, check out the Vodafone New Zealand Foundation's website: http:// www.vodafonenzfoundation.co.nz
To find out just how nice you are check out: http:// www.nicepeople.co.nz
The Vodafone New Zealand Foundation (VNZF) is a charitable trust established in New Zealand and funded by donations from Vodafone New Zealand Limited and the Vodafone Group Foundation ( http://www.vodafonefoundation.org).
The VNZF makes social investments to help the people of NZ live fuller lives. It does this by: promoting and enhancing quality relationships and connectedness between young people and society; sharing the benefits of the developments in communications technology with those who are currently excluded; encouraging New Zealanders to protect their natural environment and making opportunities available for Vodafone people to share their skills with others.