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Kiwi Sign NZ
Earth Mother & Sky Father
Maori are known as tangata whenua – people of the land. Their affinity to the landscape of Aotearoa and the orgins of Maori society are based in Maori myth and legend. The central creation myth is that of Ranginui, the sky father, and Papatuanuku, the earth mother. They bore 70 sons who were gods, but their embrace kept the world in eternal darkness until one of their sons, Tane mahuta, god of man and forest, led his brothers to break them apart and finally let in Te Ao Marama, the world of light.

How the Kiwi lost its wings
Tane Mahuta, god of the forest, was worried about his children, the trees, as bugs and birds ate away at them. He consulted his brother Tane Hokahoka, god of the birds, who asked his children to come down from the forest roof and live on the floor. But only the Kiwi agreed to sacrifice his beautiful wings and feathers to live on the dark, damp forest floor. As a reward, Tane Hokahoka made him the most well-known and best-loved bird of all.

Why volunteer in New Zealand?

If you are in search of an unforgettable adventure, then you’ve come to the right place! New Zealand is home to a rich cultural and national heritage. Spectacular and varied landscapes – from rugged mountain ranges and forest-cloaked valleys to sparkling turquoise lakes and golden beaches – combine with unique wildlife experiences to create an unforgettable destination.

New Zealand’s geographical isolation has fostered a colourful history and unique multicultural identity. Maori, European, Pacific and Asian influences are woven together in a rich cultural fabric, with indigenous Maori culture playing a big part in everyday life. New Zealand has been an island nation for over 85 million years resulting in a remarkable range of native species which can be found nowhere else in the world!

Volunteer in New Zealand with ACVE
Aotearoa Cultural & Volunteer Exchange currently welcomes up to 50 international volunteers to New Zealand each year. Our volunteer teams arrive in January and August to work on host projects throughout the country for 6 or 12 months. You can choose to volunteer at two different projects over a 12 month period. Of course, there is plenty of time for travel and both ACVE and our host project partners actively encourage ACVE international volunteers to explore our beautiful and unique country.

Your ACVE volunteer programme
When you choose to volunteer in New Zealand with ACVE, you can be assured of a warm welcome and full support during your international volunteering year. Your adventure starts with a group orientation training seminar at Pacific Park Camp in Papamoa or Lakes Ranch Camp in Rotorua. Here you will learn more about the Kiwi culture and people, ICYE and the ACVE volunteer programme, expectations and other technical and practical information which you will need during your stay in New Zealand. You will also undertake an intensive English language course taught by our experienced ESOL teachers.

Ongoing support
Transport is organised to your first 6 month volunteer project placement where you will travel across New Zealand by bus, plane (to the South Island) or ferry to Great Barrier Island. There are two further training seminars to attend – the midterm seminar is a chance to reconnect with the whole ACVE volunteer team and to share your experiences so far. The final seminar is held in the ACVE offices in Tauranga prior to your departure back home. It is inspiring to hear about each person’s journey, not only through New Zealand but a journey in adventure, personal development and self-confidence. Individual travel time is usually taken from mid-December til mid January to take advantage of the sunshine and the long New Zealand summer holidays.

ACVE host projects 
ACVE works in collaboration with a number of project partners throughout New Zealand, from Christchurch in the South Island up to Great Barrier Island, 100km off the coast of Auckland.


Our projects include:
  • working with children in crisis
  • offering friendship and support to intellectually disabled young people and adults
  • working as a teacher aide in a rural school
  • assisting park rangers in a conservation project 
  • teaching outdoor activities at our youth and adventure camps
ACVE works closely with project staff to ensure that our international volunteers are valued, supported and meaningful members of their chosen project staff team. Our project partners have all hosted ACVE volunteers for a number of years and love working with a group of such positive, proactive, friendly and compassionate young people. ACVE staff visit each project once a year to ensure programme quality and volunteer development. It is also a chance to catch up with volunteers and learn about their activities and achievements within their chosen project. Each volunteer brings a new skill, new idea and new way of doing things to their project and it is great to see the results.
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