Tag Archives: SVA

How SVA helped the Canterbury flooding clean up

The rain and flooding that affected Canterbury in the past few weeks left many communities in need of a hand to clean up. With shovels in hand and a trailer full of wheelbarrows, the UC Student Volunteer Army (SVA) teamed up with the Christchurch Tramping Club to lend a hand in a disaster response once again. Four projects were taken on across the Canterbury region covering Geraldine, Glentunnel, Darfield, and Dunsandel.

A group of around 45 volunteers assembled at Haere-Roa carpark for an early morning briefing at 7am before splitting off into groups and travelling out to the locations in the UC and Hyundai vans. Vans were filled with care packages and baking to give to the affected communities, kindly organised by local charity New Zealand Gifts of Love and Strength.

The volunteering involved cleaning fences, moving furniture, and shoveling gravel with most of the projects involving over 6 hours of hard work. Thankfully, all vans made it back by 5.30pm and volunteers were invited to the SVA headquarters for a feed to say thank you for their work. It was amazing to meet some incredible people – both the communities we helped, and the volunteers from the tramping club. So many life stories to be told while we worked away.

Watch the UC SVA channels for more chances to help out and get involved in volunteering!

Highlights from the SVA Nelson Camp

The Student Volunteer Army’s (SVA) first camp of 2021 took place from 7 –  9 May in Nelson. The team headed up to help local community groups with weeding, planting, track maintance and setting up a new pop up shop. Take a look at the blog from the SVA below to find out more about the work they did and how they made the most of their time in the Tasman region:

The UC calendar is not complete without at least one SVA camp in the mix! Over the past weekend, some 60 UC students headed up to Nelson to bring the SVA spirit to the Tasman region. Volunteering was spread over two days with a large group planting happening on the Friday afternoon and then split group projects on the Saturday morning.

The SVA worked alongside local community groups, including Tasman Environmental Trust, Habitat for Humanity and ReStore, Keep Richmond Beautiful, the Cohen Family, and the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary. The mahi of our students meant 3000 trees were planted, a brand new pop-up store was set up with proceeds going to Habitat for Humanity (a global charity providing families with housing support), a walking track was built in the Richmond hills, and over 100 extra volunteer hours were completed at a 700-acre sanctuary for endangered species.

Community leads were thankful for the support we provided and in return, inspired our volunteers with their stories. The wide variety of projects on this camp allowed for different skill sets to shine through but all provided a common motivation of contributing to the community. One of the volunteers working at the Brook Sanctuary said “We’re not doing this for ourselves, but for all of the future generations” – such an important reminder that the work done may not have an immediate result but the future impact is outstanding.

After a busy two days, volunteers were keen to kick back for the rest of the weekend, and were released to explore Nelson on the Saturday evening. Sunday was the trip back to Christchurch, with a detour to Kaikoura where we were treated with a whale sighting!

Overall, the camp was a huge success with President Luke Burke commenting “I honestly couldn’t be happier with how this weekend went. We thought we might have difficulty selling tickets, and we didn’t. We thought we’d get nothing but rain all weekend, and we didn’t. I have nothing but praise for all our volunteers, who put in two days of hard mahi with smiles on their faces. I didn’t hear a single complaint, despite them doing more than 9 hours of work each. Thank you, you troopers, you legends. It should go without saying that you’re welcome back any time! I should add that much of the success of the camp has to be attributed to the meticulous planning our events and logistics team put in. Thank you guys.”

The UC SVA would like to thank all the community groups that we worked with. These are dedicated, passionate people who are going above and beyond for the good of Tasman and New Zealand. We couldn’t run the events we do without the work these groups put in day in and out.

Our first camp of 2021 is the Student Volunteer Army’s seventh since 2018, now having covered the north, west, south and east regions of the South Island. We’re looking forward to hosting another towards the end of the year! Who knows where we’ll be heading next?

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.