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Student Volunteers show kaitiakitanga at ZEALANDIA
ZEALANDIA Ecosanctuary

Student Volunteers show kaitiakitanga at ZEALANDIA

Student Volunteer Week, 1-7 April 2019, celebrates and recognises the contributions of young people taking their future into their own hands. 
The focus in 2019 is Kaitiakitanga, the guardianship of our environment. Student volunteers are instrumental to this guardianship and are at the forefront of advocating for environmental protection and carbon neutrality. 
Here at ZEALANDIA student volunteers are involved in all aspects of our volunteer opportunities – from providing extra feed for our special birds, greeting visitors at the front desk, to bird counting and guiding groups. 

We spoke to a few of our student volunteers and asked why they do it: 

Jono Sylvester has been volunteering at ZEALANDIA for five years, since he was at school.  

“I first got involved because my family was too. Now I love that I’m helping to contribute to the vision of the Sanctuary and as an escape from the books!” 

Jono’s done several roles – from bird feeding, to kiwi call counting, to guiding. He’s even helped with clearing invasive weeds and with lizard surveys. 

“Meeting and working with volunteers from elsewhere and doing lots of different things has been great. It has helped me to see things from multiple perspectives, communicate with all kinds of people and improve my ability in public speaking.” 

For Steph Davis, who is from Tauranga and is studying at Victoria, ZEALANDIA has been a sanctuary-in-the-city. She admits to a ‘native bird obsession’ and says she loves the peaceful environment so close to the city.  

Volunteering has given Steph some special experiences, for example, seeing the newly-fledged takahē chick when the area was closed to the public, and observing the behaviour of the parents and chick. 

“The parents followed me down to the food hopper, with the chick hiding behind, then I put the food down and watched as they started eating.” 

She’s studying for a BSc in Environmental Studies and loves doing field work and research. 

Steph says volunteering at ZEALANDIA is flexible and doesn’t take up a lot of time yet it’s so rewarding. She’d recommend it to other students. 

“It’s crazy to see kākā in the tree outside my window at home,” Steph says, noting the spill-over effect from bird breeding at ZEALANDIA. 

Throughout Student Volunteer week, universities, schools, and organisations nationwide will host a variety of events celebrating and connecting young people with opportunities to get involved. 


For information on how to get involved with #SVW2019 visit www.studentvolunteerweek.nz 

Photo credit Parth Patel

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