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Visit Of United Nations Volunteer Coordinator

The Executive Coordinator of United Nations Volunteers (UNV) Sharon Capeling-Alakija is visiting New Zealand as part of a three country tour which includes Australia and East Timor, Internal Affairs Minister Mark Burton said today.

The visit has a dual purpose, with Ms Capeling-Alakija here to help raise awareness of International Year of Volunteers 2001, and to increase the number of New Zealand volunteers taking part in UNV's international development assistance work.

She will be meeting with Volunteer Centres in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch, Volunteer Service Abroad, Ministers and Members of Parliament, the Governor-General, and officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Internal Affairs.

Mr Burton said Ms Capeling-Alakija's visit should prove a useful catalyst for planning for the Year which will be about celebrating and acknowledging the essential work volunteers do, and their vital contribution to strengthening communities.

"As Sharon Capeling-Alakija herself puts it, `volunteers are the glue of society'. Volunteering helps build more cohesive societies by fostering trust and reciprocity among citizens. It makes significant contributions, both economically and socially."

The Year will be formally launched in New Zealand on December 5, 2000, a date which countries around the world will also be marking.

"Already the Government is working with volunteers in order to share ideas for contributing to the Year," Mark Burton said.

Sharon Capeling-Alakija is the former director of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and held senior positions in both the UN Development Programme and at the Canadian University Service Overseas.


She recently received an Honorary Doctorate of Law from the University of Saskatchewan and has been made a Patron of the Global Co-operation Council.

The public can attend meetings with Ms Capeling-Alakija in Hamilton, Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch as follows:

Saturday 7 October at 10 am Hamilton: Lunch with Volunteering Waikato/Visits to projects. Meet at 10 am at Volunteer Centre: Caro St Community Building, Caro St, Hamilton.

Monday 9 October at 8am Auckland: Breakfast meeting organised by the Auckland Volunteer Centre, Cathedral Café, 446 Parnell Rd, Parnell. $5 for muffin and coffee.

Tuesday 10 October at 10:45am Wellington: Volunteer Wellington and the Department of Internal Affairs hosts a meeting with volunteers and government officials on International Year of Volunteers at the Beehive - limited space. People wishing to attend should RSVP to Phil Williamson on 04 494 0592.

Thursday 12 October at 12 noon Christchurch: BYO Lunch with Canterbury Volunteer Centre, at Knox Centre, 28 Bealey Ave. Tea, coffee and juice will be provided.

Further information on the International Year of Volunters is now available online at www.dia.govt.nz under 'What's New', and from 13 October at www.iyvolunteers.govt.nz


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