It was a case of third time’s a charm for Volunteer South.
The organisation finally opened its Oamaru centre at The Business Hive on Monday, after two prior events were postponed due to Covid-19.
The centre was blessed by Te Moeraki chairman Justin Tipa and KHuirapa ki Puketeraki’s Hinerangi Ferrall-Heath, and a ribbon-cutting by Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher marked the official opening.
Mr Kircher said volunteers were the “oil that keep the machine going” in the Waitaki district and he was proud to open the centre.
“We are looking forward to really great things coming from it,” he said.
Volunteer South Waitaki senior co-ordinator Julia Rata-Te Raki was ecstatic to have the facility open, and was looking forward to connecting with the community further.
“We’re really glad it’s happening . . . usually you’d have the opening before you met a significant amount of people, but I’ve met a large number of people,” Mrs Rata-Te Raki said.
“I’m exciting to be connecting and giving something back to these people who have been meeting me over the last few months.”
The centre would play a pivotal role in connecting volunteers with volunteer organisations and helping them enable one another.
“It’s connecting and matching people, matching them to a role that enhances them and giving the organisation the skill set – we want to be that person in between.”
Waitaki had many volunteers and it was important they felt supported and mentored to continue their work, she said.
It also provided the opportunity to raise the profile of youth volunteers and opportunities in the area.
Volunteer South chairman Andrew Whiley said having Mrs Rata-Te Raki based in the area and working in the community was “awesome”.
“We didn’t want a Dunedin focus for Oamaru, we wanted an Oamaru focus for Oamaru -that’s important, that’s the buy-in,” Mr Whiley said.
Volunteer South manager Leisa de Klerk said the organisation looked forward to supporting the community post-lockdown and in the future.
“We have heaps of cool projects planned for the area,” Ms de Klerk said.