Tag Archives: SVA

Dr Jane Goodall inspires 

Environmentalist, humanitarian and the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees Dame Jane Goodall took time in her Aotearoa New Zealand tour to inspire Canterbury students of all ages, from primary-school age up to UC students in the Student Volunteer Army (SVA) last week. SVA President Jared McMahon shares his impressions of the encounter below:

Most 83 year olds have done a fair bit of living, having survived the Second World War, the Cold War and now the war on terror. They’ve experienced an unparalleled explosion in connectivity, through invention of the worldwide web and the advent of the information age, but few could lay claim to a life so full of living, that it rivals the extraordinary journey of Dr Jane Goodall.

The Student Volunteer Army executive, members of our high school programme from Cashmere High and St Andrew’s College, along with students from Sumner School, were lucky enough to meet Dr Goodall recently and talk with her about a range of issues, from animal rights activism and climate change, to a society struggling to deal with apathetic youth, and what these issues may mean for our future.

In 1960, at just 26 years old, Dr Goodall set up a study of chimpanzees in Gombe Stream Tanzania, that has continued on for over 55-years and seen her become not only the world’s foremost expert on Chimpanzees, but an ardent campaigner for conservation efforts and increasingly a voice for social change. Meeting Dr Goodall was a remarkable experience, as she shared with us her stories from Gombe Stream and also her thoughts about the future.

There were several points made by Dr Goodall that really resonated with me and many of those present. The first being of the vital need to swiftly and decisively change the way we treat our planet, its animals and its people.

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Dr Goodall used the quote “we have not inherited the plant from our ancestors, we’ve borrowed it from our children”, she then went on to say she believes this is wrong and instead, “we’ve stolen it from them, and we’re still stealing”. For the young people in the audience it was hard not to reflect on some of the political, economic and social decisions made in the decades before and since our birth, and how these decisions might impact our future, had we been stolen from?

Her fight against apathetic youth was the second key message that really struck a chord with the audience, mentioning numerous times that “the greatest danger to our future is apathy”. Dr Goodall, at 83 years old, spends roughly 300 days a year travelling the world promoting the idea to young people of how absolutely critical it is that they engage and participate.

It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to hear these words from Dr Goodall herself and to share in some of the wisdom that a life so well lived can bring.

Student Volunteer Army (SVA) executive members with Dr Jane Goodall during her visit to Christchurch.
Student Volunteer Army (SVA) executive members with Dr Jane Goodall during her visit to Christchurch

Help the SVA in Woolston – 14 May

Interested in an action-packed day of volunteering?

Join the Student Volunteer Army in Woolston on the 14th of May for a morning of helping out residents in need, saving the endangered black-billed gull, walking along the Heathcote as we give the riverbank a spruce-up and channelling your inner artist with our painting projects.

It’s set to be a great day, with a free community BBQ at Bamford School for everyone involved.

A briefing will be held at Bamford School at 9am before volunteers are split into groups.

Register for the event here >

Students pitch in to help Christchurch community

An area of wetland damaged by fire in 2014 was restored to its former glory with help from secondary school students and the University of Canterbury Student Volunteer Army (SVA). In 2014, vandals drove a car into Halswell Quarry destroying an area of native planting before setting fire to a section of boardwalk.

Recently, students from 10 Christchurch secondary schools, alongside the UC SVA, took on the restoration project as part of the SVA’s UCan volunteer programme and, in the space of a few hours, transformed the wetland area. The UCan programme encourages local secondary students to become leaders in their communities through volunteering, while being mentored by SVA members.

Student Volunteer Army (SVA) together with High School students from around Christchurch complete a project at Halswell Quarry Park.

Despite a rainy day, around 35 Year 12 and 13 students arrived eager to get to work. One crew set about rebuilding the damaged boardwalk, another group cleared the area around young native plantings and another used bark mulch to restore the pathway.

Christchurch City Council park rangers Nigel Morritt and Robbie Hewson worked alongside the volunteers.

“It was an amazing effort. In the space of a few hours the volunteers transformed the area. With the boardwalk repaired, track mulched and native plants released, all traces of the fire were gone. The students were full of energy and enthusiasm for the project and were a credit to their schools and the organisation, ” Nigel Morritt says.Student Volunteer Army (SVA) together with High School students from around Christchurch complete a project at Halswell Quarry Park.Student Volunteer Army (SVA) together with High School students from around Christchurch complete a project at Halswell Quarry Park.

Volunteer drivers for SVA camp needed

Want to help the Student Volunteer Army?

It is looking for drivers to help them with their camp, held between March 11th and 13th.


Drivers will need to be able to drive long distances, as the camp will be largely taking place in the Marlborough Sounds.

Drivers will receive fuel vouchers to cover the cost of petrol.

If you are interested please call the SVA events team, Alison Faulls on 0277108277 or Ed Cook on 0278766400.