News Story

VIDEO: Thousands of 'Helping Hands' Volunteers Make a Difference Across New Zealand

Last Saturday [22 February] thousands of Helping Hands volunteers participated in dozens of community projects across New Zealand. The activities included painting maraes, cleaning up reserves, and improving school grounds and other community facilities.

The volunteers, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, were easily recognizable by their yellow “Helping Hands” vests. They worked together with local governments, other churches and groups in order to make New Zealand cities, towns and green spaces more beautiful and useable.

One of the many projects across New Zealand on Saturday, in Opotoki, saw around 200 people turn out — despite the rain — to participate in a joint community project to tidy up the old section of the Waitangi Cemetery.

The roadside fences were renewed, about six trailer loads of rubbish were removed, hedging planted, rails added to the bridge, tree stumps removed, nominated headstones cleaned and also weeding and general cleaning done.

People travelled from as far afield as Tauranga and Mount Maunganui and also Whakatane and Kawerau to help out with the Opotiki locals who attended.

It was a combined effort of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Lions Club of Opotiki and the Opotiki District Council. Many other people came along to help as well. There were also donations from local businesses and others who wanted to lend support for the project.

Opotiki fencer Jim Fisher lent his expertise in replacing the fence wire and worked alongside qualified builders who were among the volunteers.

Representing the Council on the day was Opotiki District Councilor Ken Young who said it was a wonderful turnout and a good example of volunteers helping in the community. He was also impressed with the number of young people among the volunteers who were enjoying the service project. “It was a good chance for the young ones and others to show their community spirit and a good education for many who attended,” he said.

The Council provided the materials, Church members and friends were the labour force and the Lions Club provided a welcome lunch under shelter. Consents were given to clean several of the headstones from which mould, mildew, moss and lichen were removed.

The all-day rain and drizzle made the job easier and cooler but the fence painting, which was planned for the day, now has to wait until Church members get together again soon to complete the makeover.

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.