Focus on Whitianga volunteer groups – cheers volunteers!

Focus on Whitianga volunteer groups – cheers volunteers!

CK Updated
Ladies collecting for Daffodil day dressed in yellow

Volunteering New Zealand is recognising our volunteer stars as part of National Volunteer week 19-25 June. In this article we celebrate seven local Mercury Bay volunteer services and community groups through their volunteer stories. As a reader, you may discover volunteer work to get involved with, or some new places to volunteer! 


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Cultural Anthropologist Margaret Mead famously commented ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has’. 

Within the Mercury Bay community committed volunteers support our many local community groups by offering their time and skills and undoubtedly grow our communities in incredibly positive ways.This may just be why volunteering is often aptly referred to as being part of the ‘glue’ that holds our communities together. 

I have the privilege to talk with volunteer organisations on a regular basis and appreciate the vital contribution they make to our community and local economy. Annually the All About Whitianga team sponsors 100+ community volunteer listing pages, articles and event listings to raise group profiles, fundraisers and activities. Volunteers are hugely active in our local community and while this article highlights a few of our fantastic local not for profit groups, I would encourage readers to view the All About Whitianga community section to see the full range of incredible volunteer groups within our community

– Cathy Klouwens, Sales and Business Development Manager All About Whitianga 

Mercury Bay Volunteer Stories

St Andrew’s Church Op Shop– Preloved for community love

St Andrew’s Op shop is open three mornings a week. Team leader Madeleine Saunders and her dedicated group of 20 volunteers are responsible for its smooth running, its low-priced bargains, and its warm welcome. The Op shop was established in 1984 and gives an average of $40,000 annually to church and community projects.

The Church Op shop keeps St Andrew’s Community Church doors open, maintaining a safe and welcoming environment to many community groups.  All Op shop profits go back to supporting the local community, through regular monthly donations to the other churches in Whitianga, and to Whitianga Volunteer Fire Brigade.

Non-profit community groups in Mercury Bay are also encouraged to apply to the Church for funds for their special projects.

Our successes in assisting the community are only made possible by our pool of keen volunteers who offer their skills, talents, time and support towards Church and community activities. No-one gets paid here. Every person in our team is a vital and respected volunteer, and we love them all.  While they are needed to coordinate, run, manage and maintain many of our programmes, our volunteers will tell you that the work also fills a need for them – everyone needs a good reason to get out of bed in the mornings!

Madeleine Saunders , Op Shop Coordinator, St Andrews Church Op Shop

Find out more about St Andrew Church Op Shop in the Op Shop and Second Hand section. 

Mercury Bay Cancer Support Trust – Providing support when its needed the most 

The Mercury Bay Cancer Support Trust is a group of local volunteers who have all personally experienced cancer, or have supported others through their cancer journey. The group offers practical and emotional support from people who may understand the emotions and experiences that come with a cancer diagnosis.

 As part of their volunteer work the Trust also convenes monthly morning teas (in partnership with the Waikato- Bay of Plenty Cancer Society) for cancer patients and their families, Covid -19 restrictions allowing.

And, throughout the year volunteers run fundraising initiatives such as the Cancer support book shop and annual daffodil day collections (which has been running for an incredible 30 years). This year the Trust team initiated a special fundraising drive to enable them to purchase a new van to transport heavy equipment such as beds, chairs from their storage facility to homes, as well as patient transport on occasions when family or community transport isn’t available.

Volunteer contributions are what makes this community a community - people coming together for a good cause, because they know it makes a difference to individuals and families in need. Our volunteers are incredible people and we appreciate each and every one of them for the efforts to support our Trust over many years. 

– Jody Bower, Chairperson Mercury Bay Cancer Support Trust 

Find out about the Mercury Bay Cancer Support Trust in the Community Welfare Organisations section. 

Mercury Bay Tennis Club – Remarkable efforts for over a century 

The Mercury Bay Tennis Club has been supported by an enthusiastic group of local volunteers since it was formed in 1898. A grass paddock on Buffalo Beach Road provided the original tennis courts for the club until it made several moves to its current site at Albert Street.

The club has supported junior tennis, school tennis, business house evenings and open club nights over the years. The club has recently had its courts resurfaced with tiger turf. 

For a small voluntary club with two courts, it is remarkable what has been achieved over many years. With the advent of professionalism in sport we need to occasionally remind our national associations the need to acknowledge these small clubs to keep sports active throughout our communities. And always remember, the game is always bigger than one person!

Peter Grant, Treasurer Mercury Bay Tennis Club.

Find out about the Mercury Bay Tennis Club in our Community Sports section

Project Kiwi Trust– helping Coromandel kiwi thrive

Project Kiwi Trust is a kiwi conservation project operating on the Kūaotunu Peninsula, near Whitianga on the Coromandel Peninsula. It was the first community-based project in New Zealand to protect kiwi and has sustained its effort for over 25 years. Throughout this time, the Trust has been supported by landowners, organisations and thousands of individual volunteers.

The Trust coordinates several initiatives with the support of volunteers to make the Kūaotunu space safe for kiwi. This includes pest and predator management as well as the Operation Nest Egg programme. The Trust seeks opportunities to continue to build upon what it has achieved for kiwi, and to maintain its energy and enthusiasm for progression. PKT operates with integrity and professionalism and strives to contribute to regional and national kiwi recovery goals.  Project Kiwi could not have achieved what it has over the last 25 years without the support of generous people – he tangata, he tangata, he tangata.

 – Paula Williams, Project Manager Project Kiwi Trust

Find out about Project Kiwi Trust in the Community Environment and Conservation section.

Pictured above: One of the 2021 Cadet programme crews. 

Whitianga Volunteer Coastguard

Whitianga Coastguard is supported by dedicated volunteers in and around Whitianga who provide Search and Rescue services to save lives at sea and to promote water safety education and initiatives.

The organisation whas 35 active crew members who are trained to support radio calls, rescues and education courses. As a busy coastguard unit based in the Eastern Region their area of responsibility stretches from Cape Colville in the North to Boat Harbour in the South and can assist Tairua/Pauanui when required.

At the beginning of June the coastguard commenced the fourth intake for the Allan Jackson Memorial Cadet programme. Over a 12 week period Mercury Bay Area School student recruits (aged between 15-17) will be trained by Whitianga Volunteer Coastguard volunteers. The students have all course expenses paid by coastguard and learn on the water skills, classroom theory, and sit VHF, Day Skipper and First Aid certificates.

We are all professional volunteers, and at a unit level Whitianga Volunteer Coastguard is entirely run by volunteers. Without this volunteer aspect there would be no coastguard and we wouldn’t be able to achieve our mission of saving lives at sea. We’re always actively seeking and welcome more volunteers. Currently we are seeking more wet (boat). 

– Graham Caddy, Whitianga Volunteer Coastguard Vice President and Cadet Trainer

Find out more about Whitianga Coastguard in the Community Emergency Services section

Mercury Bay Pickleball Club Inc– Growing from strength to Strength

Pickleball was introduced to Whitianga in 2019 by then new residents Rachel and Brook Johnstone. They quickly developed local interest in this lesser known NZ sport, and with the assistance of other passionate volunteers established the Mercury Bay Pickleball Club becoming incorporated in September that year.

From its initial core group of volunteer organisers it has grown from strength to strength and now has a core group of 20 regular players and growing membership base of 60-70 both in Whitianga and Matarangi. The club has four outside courts marked up at Matarangi and has recently obtained a grant from the Aotearoa Gaming Trust for permanent nets to be installed soon.

With the support of the volunteer club committee and club members the club hosts regular club nights. It has also hosted special Pickleball events in summer periods which have been successful in attracting visitors to play locally. 

Mercury Bay members have entered National competitions and have accumulated 9 medals so far in Open and Super divisions – a great result and representation for the Mercury Bay area.

Pickleball combines elements of badminton, tennis and table tennis for two or four players – and its a great sport for any ages. It has been a pleasure to help grow this sport in our local community. Our committee and members voluntary efforts have since raised funds to purchase paddles, balls, establish permanent playing nets at Mercury Bay Multisports Park, run school holiday ‘Open Day’ coaching sessions at Mercury Bay Area School for new players including students from MBAS. 

– Rachel Johnstone, President Mercury Bay Pickleball Club Inc

Find out about the Mercury Bay Pickleball club in the Community Sport section

Mercury Bay Historical Society - Nuturing our Heritage

The Mercury Bay Historical Society was established in 1975 with the aim of facilitating and supporting projects, events and opportunities for the public to enjoy local history. Original committee members included Mr A J Bithell as president, Mrs P Latham and Messrs B J Hamilton, Jo Norton, Jim Norton, R Lee, J Hunt, F G Harsant and Gary Wilson.

Historical Society members have a passion for history and meeting new likeminded people. The Society is supported by a volunteer committee who organise regular coffee catch ups, guest speakers, coordinate heritage projects, excursions and regular communications to members. 

Recent excursions have included a Mercury Bay Islands boat trip, Colville Paritu Granite visit and Stargazers tour. Regular coffee catch ups provide feature guest speakers and a chance to meet informally with other members. 

There is certainly a lot of passion for local history and heritage within our community. Our current members have a lot of knowledge to share, and we also know there are many untapped skills amongst our community that would be great to have in our Society either to support the committee or as members. We’d welcome anyone to get in contact to join us. 

Alastair Brickell, Chairperson Mercury Bay Historical Society 

Find out more about the Mercury Bay Historical Society in the Community Arts – History section

Want to become a volunteer?

There may just be a group or volunteering opportunity in Whitianga that is just waiting for you!

Volunteering provides individuals the  opportunity for social engagement, the opportunity to share and learn new skills. 

Whether you have lived in the Mercury Bay for a while, or are new to the community you may like to view the All About Whitianga Community Section for a list of the diverse community groups that you could get involved with. 

See the great list of local clubs and organisations in the Community Gude which include opportunities for you to get involved in:

  • Arts and Culture
  • Churches
  • Community and Social Clubs
  • Libraries
  • Emergency Services
  • Environmental Groups
  • Schools
  • Sports and Recreation
  • Welfare Organisations.

Ready to raise the online profile of your community group?

All About Whitianga is proud to sponsor free and discounted profile pages, job listings,events and articles for not for profit organisations in the Mercury Bay area. Please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to discuss how we can assist a group you may be associated with.

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