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Laban: Volunteering Canterbury - 2007 Awards

19 June 2007

Volunteering Canterbury - 2007 Volunteer Recognition Awards

Taloha ni, Talofa lava, Malo e lelei, Fakaalofa lahi atu, Ni sa bula vinaka, Namaste, Kia orana koutou katoatoa, Ia Orana, Gud de tru olgeta, Talofa, Kia ora tatau and Warm Pacific Greetings to you all this afternoon.

Thank you to Jan Harrison, Ruth Gardner and Volunteer Canterbury for the warm welcome today and the invitation to be part of the Volunteer Recognition Awards for 2007.

I also want to thank the students from Middleton Grange School for their wonderful performance.

This is the second year I have attended this awards ceremony, and it gives me great pleasure to be with you.

I would like to acknowledge the many volunteers and their agencies present here, and offer congratulations to those volunteers who are being recognised today for their contributions.

As Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector, I am delighted to be here for this key event, marking the 2007 Volunteer Awareness Week.

The theme for this Week is "Diversity".

There is a role for all New Zealanders from all backgrounds to volunteer.

The week continues to be important in the volunteering calendar as we recognise the skills of individual volunteers and their organisations and the contribution to their community's economic, cultural and social development.

The investment by this Labour-led government in community-led solutions to community problems and community-led initiatives for growth saw the 2001 establishment of the Support for Volunteering Fund.

The Fund has been available to Regional Volunteer Centres to enable them to build capacity and capability so they could support their communities effectively.

There has also been support for ethnic communities through the New Zealand Federation of Ethnic Councils to define barriers to ethnic people volunteering.

A series of conferences and workshops have been run over five years to promote ethnic volunteering.

Mahi Aroha: Mäori perspectives on volunteering and cultural obligations was released at the end of April this year.

For many Mäori, mahi aroha carried out for the whänau, hapu, and iwi is part of tikanga, of Mäori values and worldview.

This report is important for our understanding of how and why Mäori volunteer.

The report on Pacific peoples and volunteering is being worked on, and will add to our growing understanding of volunteering in New Zealand.

Volunteering plays an important part in helping new immigrants into the job market.

It is a good way for both the host society and the immigrant to get to know each other better.

Work has been done elsewhere too.

Last year I told you about the study being undertaken by Government, through Statistics New Zealand, the Office for the Community and Voluntary Sector, Massey University and Johns Hopkins University in the USA, with a community committee.

"The Study of the NZ Non-Profit Sector: New Zealand" is measuring the contribution and economic impact of non-profit institutions.

According to the study, to be published in August, nearly 90,000 of the country's non-profit institutions rely entirely on volunteers to keep operating. Volunteers also outnumber paid employees by about four to one in the 97,000 non-profit institutions assessed by the researchers.

The history and diversity that exists within volunteering in this country is highlighted in a part of the study, released in September 2006, called "Defining the Non-Profit Sector: New Zealand".

You are part of this amazing contribution to New Zealand society and I am delighted that this study gives all volunteers the recognition they deserve.

The 2007 Budget contained important information for non-profit organisations.

There will be a removal of the current cap on the dollar amount of charitable donations that are eligible for a tax rebate.

Also, in recognition of the contribution that non-profit organisations make to the community, further work will be done to streamline the tax of volunteers' reimbursement payments and honoraria.

We do not have to look far for evidence of this contribution, as we know activities as diverse as sports, the arts, heritage, emergency services, social services, health, education, recreation, human rights, tourism, conservation and the environment are reliant on the skills of volunteers.

By being involved, volunteers discover that volunteering opens doors to new experiences.

While getting much satisfaction and enjoyment from volunteering, volunteers know their skills support the community and help to keep New Zealand a great place to live in.

Volunteers contribute to social and cultural development, the economy and the environment.

The promotion of volunteering and the continued recruitment, training and retention of experienced volunteers are highlighted by events such as this award presentation.

Volunteering Canterbury's vision is 'Supportive communities where volunteering is understood, recognised and valued'. This is especially true today as we acknowledge the vital contribution made by your volunteers, by ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

New Zealanders have a long history of volunteering. It is part of our way of life, and helps to build strong communities, with strong values, that can grow into the future.

Regional volunteer centres are part of community-led initiatives around the country and are an important resource. Among their many activities, volunteer centre workers have an important role in the recruitment of volunteers.

Volunteers can coordinate corporate volunteer projects, or work with individual volunteers to match their valuable skills to a community organisation in need.

This activity alone builds a strong foundation for communities, as skills and experience are shared.

Regional volunteer centres also advise and train community organisations using volunteers in volunteer management and governance and management training.

These organisations have come to rely on high standards of guidance provided by the Volunteer Centres and have become part of the development of volunteering in their region.

Regional Volunteer Centres support important networks for volunteers and for voluntary organisations.

This includes regular forums to promote best practice in volunteering. This is a vital link for many organisations, large and small, urban and rural.

This work provides a feeling of belonging to a community that we have come to expect from volunteering, and allows you to step back from your own experience and be part of the wider world of the volunteer.

Today's event is not just about recognising the generous contribution made by volunteers; it is also about celebrating the contribution volunteers make to our communities and our regions.

Every aspect of our society benefits from the skills of volunteers and we are about to hear about many examples here today.

So I would like to congratulate you all.

You deserve this recognition and we need to continue to celebrate and value the positive goodwill that is in our people.

Thank you so much for your wonderful contribution and commitment to serving and contributing to the goodwill of our communities.

Today we honour you.

Meitaki Maata.


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