By Trevor Stone, DOC Volunteering Coordinator and Helen Tickner, General Manager at Pukaha Mt Bruce
As part of National Volunteer Week we're acknowledging the great contribution volunteers make to conservation:
Naku to rourou nau te rourou ka ora ai te tangata
With your contribution and my contribution the people will live
At the Pukaha Mount Bruce Wildlife Centre, volunteers of all ages are essential to the day-to-day running and the overall success of the centre.
Gay is one of five volunteers from the Landsowne Retirement Village, and enjoys lending a hand at the centre whenever she can.
As a volunteer host, she meets and greets visitors to the wildlife centre, informs visitors about the tours, and answers their questions.
Pukaha Mount Bruce volunteers team from Lansdowne Retirement Village. Left to right: Margaret, Alec, Marion, Gay and Ruth.
A highlight of volunteering at Pukaha for Gay is to see the delight on children’s faces at discovering New Zealand’s special fauna. Photo by Mike Heydon.
Gay is a real people person and loves the interaction she experiences with people from all over the world – she's once met a Samurai Warrior through her volunteering!
She has a real sense of pride in the volunteer work that she does. "It's great showing off all our birds that only exist in New Zealand, it gives you a patriotic feeling," she says.
Another highlight is seeing the enjoyment of the children that visit the centre: "to watch the look on their faces as a new kiwi hatches or their delight in watching the eels being fed warms your heart."
From walking in the bush and watching the clear water in the brooks and streams that interlace the walkways, Gay enjoys the serenity she experiences.
"When I go home after a few hours of the peace and beauty which is so abundant at Pukaha I truly feel that I have had a week's holiday."
George is one of Pukaha's youngest volunteers. He's a local lad spending a 'gap year' volunteering. Every Friday George can be found cutting up and bagging the meat that is used in the predator traps.
George chopping bait for the trappers at Pukaha Mount Bruce
It's a messy job which George does without complaint. Having the meat bagged and ready makes sure the other restoration volunteers can get their jobs done efficiently. George is a key part of the smooth running of the programme.
Manukura the white kiwi at Pukaha Mount Bruce. Manukura is considered taonga (a blessing) by local iwi, Rangitane o Wairarapa and her name means ‘of chiefly status.’ Photo by Mike Heydon.
Volunteering at Pukaha Mount Bruce has been an interesting and enlightening experience for George. A highlight has been seeing the kiwi chicks in their enclosure:
"I had never been that close to kiwi before and seeing the white kiwi was awesome."
However his favourite Pukaha species is the Tuatara. "They can live for a long period of time and spend a lot of time sitting around. But can also be very energetic and quick on their feet," he says.
George has had a great insight into how much work is involved behind the scenes.
"It's cool to help out behind the scenes and know you are contributing and helping to protect NZ's wildlife."
Thank you Gay, George and all the Pukaha Mount Bruce conservation volunteers for your awesome contribution!
Pukaha is a magical and rewarding place to be involved with. To find out how you can join in, check out the volunteer programme on the Pukaha Mount Bruce website.
The tuatara is George’s favourite animal at Pukaha Mount Bruce. Photo by Mike Heydon.