23 June 2020
During COVID-19 Alert levels essential workers have been the hands keeping our communities moving, but a small number of selfless volunteers have been the heart that has supported people most affected by the pandemic.
Today Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick thanked and celebrated those volunteers as part of National Volunteer Week.
About 80 people were in attendance and were able to share the outstanding work that each organisation did and continues to do to help people in our community and from around the region. From food parcels and hygiene packs to education activities and feeding the homeless, each group looked at what their communities needed to get through the difficult time and rallied their limited resources to meet those needs.
Mayor Chadwick acknowledged the work of the volunteers and what an emotional period it has been for their teams and networks.
“You all played a critical role in the response to COVID-19. Our Civil Defence team wouldn’t have been able to do their jobs as effectively as they did without the help of all of you.
“We are through the initial response to the pandemic but we are now looking at a long recovery and how we will manage as a community. I know if we keep working like this, with the likes of volunteers like you, we will be even stronger as we keep working together.”
National Volunteer Week is an annual campaign that celebrates the collective contribution of all volunteers who enrich Aotearoa New Zealand. This year’s theme is Te Hua o te Mahi Tahi - The benefit of working together.
From stories shared it was clear that during the COVID-19 ‘lockdown’ volunteer groups connected in a way that meant they were able to effectively use their resources to maximise their approach to welfare needs. One example was the Department of Conservation Rangers, who are used to physical work, found themselves putting together hygiene packs for Te Arawa Whanau Ora. A fit that meant they could continue physical work and give back to their community at the same time.
Rotorua Lakes Council’s Civil Defence Emergency Management Controller, Bruce Horne who oversaw the local Civil Defence response, said it was amazing to see the amount of people that put their hands up to help others, especially when there was a lot of fear and anxiety.
“At the end of it all, at the heart of every volunteer’s response was kindness, awhi and manaakitanga and that is what is at the heart of our community in Rotorua. The welfare of our people was the most important thing.”
Click here to view photos from today’s celebration.