Category Archives: Student contributors

Blogs written by UC students.

UC SVA Big Give 2021

Ten years ago, before the February 22nd earthquakes in Ōtautahi-Christchurch, very few would have predicted the youth volunteer movement that was to arise. A massive UC student movement began with those earthquakes, and ten years on, this community spirit remains. 

On Saturday 13 March, hundreds of students from the University of Canterbury got up early to a beautiful sunny day for the UC Student Volunteer Army’s largest event of the year. The UC SVA hosted its fifth annual Big Give, clocking in well over 1000 volunteer hours over eight projects in the Ōtautahi-Christchurch Red Zone. Our students worked alongside local community groups, including Cultivate Christchurch, Greening the Red Zone and Avon-Ōtākaro Forest Park. Students spent the morning weeding, mulching and planting as well as collecting rubble around the east side of Christchurch.

Zane, a ranger from the Christchurch city Council managing one project, remarked that the work that the Student Volunteer Army had done in one day would have taken their team approximately a week. Looking at the piles of rubble the volunteers collected, there looked to be about three tonnes. But it was more than that! The rubble collected had been sitting there for ten years, and still this area is used for morning strolls, dog walking, and recreation. So while it may have seemed small at the time, picking up leftover rubble meant a lot to local residents. It was a reminder that others still care, and the community rebuilding process is still underway.

We could feel the passion of the community group leaders spread among our volunteers as they told their stories. Many have big plans for the areas. The Avon-Ōtākaro Forest Park group is one such group, showing volunteers their vision for the future of Brooker Reserve. They hope to make Ōtautahi a National Park City, with native habitats intertwined between residential areas, to create a wildlife corridor and promote biodiversity. Their enthusiasm has left many volunteers wanting to stay involved in this vision.

Our volunteers undoubtedly enjoyed the day, with one telling us how cool it was to see the progress made since last year’s Big Give in the Red Zone. Another loved seeing everyone getting involved and putting their heart and soul into cleaning up Christchurch. Their ability to work well with strangers and take away new friendships continues to amaze us, and it is awesome seeing so many new faces. 

After the volunteer work was completed, a free barbeque lunch and live concert was hosted for the well deserving students. Lunar Intruder, Too Woke for Toast, and Cake and Eat it performed thanks to our partner TuneSoc. It was a wholesome way to top off a very productive day.

President Luke Burke noted that “while the turnout wasn’t looking as strong leading up to it as in previous years, we managed to rally around four hundred volunteers. That was even after pushing the event back a week. It was still a lot of hands, over 1000 man-hours of work, and we achieved everything we set out to do for the community”.

Our 2021 Big Give has given us hope for the future of UC volunteering. Many students chip in during crises; we know this from the earthquake movement and our latest COVID-19 response. However, what is inspiring is that further on, even ten years after a crisis, the drive to contribute to a growing community is ingrained among us. We are pleased to know volunteering is alive, and holds strong in the hearts of many UC students. With a Student Volunteer Army like ours, it is exciting to think of the difference we can make for the future of Ōtautahi-Christchurch.

UC Student Blogger: Keeping active

When you need to take some time out from study, there are heaps of sports sessions and fitness classes you can try at the UC RecCentre. Find out more from one of our UC Student Bloggers:  

Did you know as a UC student you get access to the RecCentre for FREE?

The RecCentre is a fantastic resource for students. Not only does exercise help you stay fit and healthy, it can also prime your brain for study, and even help you to make new friends.

Whether you are a new or returning student it can be easy to get swept up in the excitement and busyness of a new semester. As your social calendar starts to fill up, and your assignments begin to build up, it is important to take time out for your physical and mental health.

Staying active is essential to wellbeing.  People who exercise regularly have a lower risk of developing many diseases as they age, sleep better, and have reduced feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. Studies show that exercise is especially important for students. Students are extremely likely to feel stressed, especially during busy periods such as exam weeks and those who exercise regularly report improved stress management. In addition, studies have shown that exercise increases blood flow to the brain. This helps the body to build more connections between nerves, leading to increased concentration and better memory allowing for more effective study.

The RecCentre has a wide range of equipment and even offers personal training for a reduced fee compared to other gyms. For people like myself who are unsure of what to do in the gym, group fitness classes are also offered. There is a large variety in classes from HIIT workouts, to pump, yoga, or Zumba. Classes make each workout more fun, and it is easier to stay motivated when you exercise with other people. Most of the classes are completely free for students, while some cost only a small fee.

UC also offers many different sports and you don’t have to have a team together to sign up. If you are want to try a new hobby this year, trying out a new sport is a great option. You get all of the great benefits of exercise, while also meeting new friends.

For more information about keeping active at UC visit:

UC Student Blogger: Keeping the balance

Being active is essential for your wellbeing, helping you stay fit (both physically and mentally), improve concentration and sleep, and reduce fatigue. Joining group classes and sports are also a great way to meet new people. Find out how to make the most of everything UC, and Ōtautahi Christchurch, has to offer from one of our Student Bloggers: 

Keeping active is one of the ways that you will be able to stay focused throughout your studies. Having some sort of balance is very important but often overlooked. University is where you have a choice to develop either healthy or unhealthy habits. Try your best to make sure you have a few solid healthy habits set before the partying sets in.

Getting active in groups is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to socialise. Joining one of UC’s social sport groups, or something more niche like the climbing club or tramping club will get you exercising but also meeting new people.

During my first semester; I wasn’t active enough at all. I just went out, went to class and went to work. No exercise that I went out of my way to do. Things changed the following semester, I slowly got more involved in RecCentre classes like Zumba and pilates with my flatmates. It’s fun to go in a group and it made me feel a lot more balanced. The RecCentre is a fantastic resource, and it’s completely free for UC students. You do need to register on your first visit but after that you’re good to go for a year. Pretty much everyone has an activity or class that will appeal to them so get amongst it.

2020 was when I got back into skiing. I always associated this activity with my parents but making friends who like heading up to Mt Hutt changed all this. I’m not a gym rat but I love being outside and in Christchurch we have pretty much everything you could ever want available to you. There are great bike tracks in the Port Hills, Bottle Lake Forest, McLeans Island and the Adventure Park. Walks are pretty much everywhere. My personal favourites are the uphill climb at the Adventure Park and doing Rapaki on a warm day. Pegasus beach is great if you have a dog, and you can’t really go wrong with a walk around Hagley Park and Mona Vale.

Make the most of everything we’ve got around us.