Minister of Health Volunteer Awards Categories

Thank you to all past nominees and 2022 Award recipients. These Awards recognise the hundreds and thousands of committed and generous volunteers across the motu. We’re taking some time now to reflect on how we can take the Awards forward and will be back shortly.

It goes without saying that we’ll engage our stakeholders and health sector partners in shaping what comes next


  • Health Volunteer of the Year
  • Outstanding achievement by a Health Care Provider Service (including hospitals, Public Health Organisations and General Practice practitioners)
  • Outstanding achievement by a Community or NGO Health Service
  • Outstanding achievement by a Māori Health Service
  • Outstanding achievement by a Pacific Health Service
  • Outstanding achievement by a Youth Health Volunteer
  • Outstanding achievement in Long Service

2022 Minister of Health Volunteer Awards recipients

Health Minister Andrew Little has announced the recipients of the 2022 Minister of Health Volunteer Awards.


Minister Little presented awards to the Overall Health Volunteer of the Year and category winners on 20 June and thanked all health volunteers for their contribution to the health and wellbeing of others.

Health Volunteer of the Year: Outstanding Achievement – Kaikohe Health Shuttle

St John Kaikohe Health Shuttle has been going above and beyond to help keep people in Kaikohe and Northland’s more remote communities, and those who are unwell, safe during the pandemic.


With only two volunteer drivers, they have ensured people are able to get to their medical appointments and vaccinations. The volunteer drivers keep the service running five days a week and are on call on weekends, even in previous COVID-related restrictions.


The judges were impressed by the lengths the drivers went to help the people of Kaikohe and surrounding districts – no matter the health status of the people they were transporting. This meant the volunteer drivers spent considerable time keeping themselves up to date with requisite infection prevention protocols.

Health Care Provider Service team volunteers: Outstanding Achievement – Breastfeeding Works! Breastfeeding Peer Supporters

Breastfeeding Works! Breastfeeding Peer Supporters from Timaru is a group of 12 mothers who have been trained in breastfeeding support and assistance through La Leche League.


Referrals come to them from Timaru Hospital Maternity Ward and community healthcare professionals, and women can self-refer. The volunteers provide support face-to-face, through support groups, over the phone and virtually.


Over the past 12 months their work has benefitted over 200 women.


Runner-up – Taupō St John Community Volunteers

The Taupō Friends of the Emergency Department and Taupō Hospital Friends offer non-clinical support, comfort, and care to patients and their whānau and in the Emergency Department and inpatient wards. They have been volunteering since 2010.


Being unable to carry out their duties because of the COVID pandemic, but wanting to help the people in their community, the teams connected with a local church group supporting people who were isolating. Together with St John Health Shuttle volunteers they helped provide food packages to people in need and delivered hot cross buns to those who were working through the pandemic, such as doctors’ surgeries and pharmacies.

Health Care Provider Service individual volunteers: Outstanding Achievement – Darren Joyce

Darren Joyce has spent the past two-and-a-half years creating a group that supports St John New Zealand volunteers in the Manawatu-Horowhenua district. He organises training, is a point of contact, and a buddy to the new volunteers. He also crews an ambulance once a week, giving volunteers a chance to learn on the job. Darren has a full-time job and a young family, but works evenings and weekends as a volunteer.


Outstanding achievement – David Jones

David is the Volunteer Team Manager for the Hamilton Major Incident Support Team. In this role, he is responsible for the training and support of the Team, which is deployed within just 30 minutes’ notice to assist with major incidents throughout the North Island. As a volunteer, he contributes to the future of Major Incident Support Teams nationwide by providing strategic insight and supporting the development of training packages.


Runner-up – Paul Fox Rogers

Paul Fox Rogers has been providing comfort and support to patients at Auckland and Waitakere Hospital’s Assessment Diagnostic Unit over the past year. He also helps staff with many non-clinical tasks and supports the hospitals’ outreach community services. When the hospital’s volunteer services were suspended for almost five months due to COVID, Paul didn’t stop volunteering. The Safe Sleep Team was struggling to keep up demand for baby cots for vulnerable families in West Auckland and Paul assembled almost 40 cots.

Runner-up – Brenda Fernee

Brenda is a Wellbeing Assistant at Summerset Mountain View in New Plymouth. In this role she works alongside the Diversional Therapist, supporting residents to take part in daily recreational and diversional activities. She’s been volunteering every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9am to 3pm since the facility’s first COVID-related restriction early this year.

Community or NGO Health Service Team Awards: Outstanding Achievement – One Mother to Another

Over the past six years, One Mother to Another has been providing free care packages to parents and caregivers with sick children in hospital. Every year they provide around 3,500 gifts across four South Island Hospitals.


The team of 60 volunteers contributes up to 300 hours each month, carrying out a range of roles from governance to practical support like packing, writing thousands of handwritten letters of encouragement, knitting and crocheting thousands of wool hearts and blankets, and delivering the care packages to hospitals.

Runner-up – MASH Trust Friendship Service Volunteer Buddies

The MASH Trust Friendship Service Volunteer Buddies ‘walk alongside’ a person with a disability. The people they support live in residential homes. They build friendships with residents living in the homes, and enjoy spending time with their buddy. There are 21 Volunteer Buddies, who have been in their roles ranging from 18 months to over 13 years. Last year, the team gifted 2,122 hours despite COVID-related restrictions.


Runner-up – 0800 Anxiety Helpline Team

Anxiety NZ Trust’s 0800 ANXIETY Helpline was established 40 years ago. It is a free, nationwide service that operates 24/7 and 365 days of the year providing support, education and brief interventions for those experiencing anxiety as well as their whānau and friends. Callers receive tailored support based on their needs. The volunteers have prior mental health study or work experience, and most have lived experience with their own anxiety or supporting others with mental health distress.

Community or NGO Health Service Individual Awards: Outstanding Achievement – Alister Robertson

Alister Robertson has been a member of the Alzheimers New Zealand Board since May 2018, initially as an appointed member, and since May 2021 as an elected member. He has been part of the Alzheimers New Zealand Advisory Group since 2017.


The Advisory Group is comprised of people keen to make a real difference for those affected by dementia. They share their lived experience of dementia, provide advice on the support and care that is needed, and raise awareness of the impacts dementia can have. Alister has made a significant contribution at a national level as a volunteer in many ways.


This includes his substantial contribution to dementia research, and as part of the expert national group working to develop the first New Zealand Dementia Mate Wareware Action Plan.

Runner-up – Nigel Winter

Nigel Winter is the parent of a young man with a disability supported by Central Otago Living Options. Over the past five years, Nigel has dedicated over 800 hours volunteering to the organisation. He has supported Living Options by travelling from Invercargill to Alexandra three times a week, looking after the garden, lawns, and maintenance at two properties where people who have disabilities live. He has completely repainted one of Living Options’ houses, taking annual leave to do the job and paying for the hire of equipment and paint himself.

Māori Health Volunteer: Te Tai Tokerau Border Control

Te Tai Tokerau Border Control was created in March 2020, during the country’s first Alert Level 4 restriction, to protect vulnerable and remote whānau living in the wider community. For two years, the team of over 200 volunteers checked people going into the rohe were either vaccinated or had tested negative. They worked closely with Northland police, iwi, and the people of Te Tai Tokerau to distribute information, carry out patrols, provide cultural advice and support households with positive cases.


The volunteers also contributed to the design of a cultural process for gatherings during various COVID alert levels, including tangihanga, protests and sports events.                                            


Te Tai Tokerau Border Control’s journey has been about building relationships with communities and relevant authorities. It’s involved many local people, who have been trained and grown together. Because they haven’t fully disbanded, Te Tai Tokerau Border Control volunteers are ready to mobilise for the next potential emergency to support their communities.

Pacific Health Volunteer: Outstanding Achievement – Iosefo Fa’afiu

Iosefo is the project lead for Link4Life, created in partnership with Counties Manukau Health and the Hopewalk Suicide Prevention Movement. Link4Life’s purpose is to bridge the gap between communities, and clinical resources and support through co-design with whānau touched by suicide in South Auckland.


Link4Life engaged, equipped, and empowered families with all the required support and upskilling so they in turn could become a resource for their families and community. In 2020 and 2021 Link4Life received funding support from LeVa to continue this work and create more opportunities for families in South Auckland and beyond.

Youth Health Volunteer Team Awards: Outstanding Achievement – Peer Tree peer support group

For six years, the young leaders of Peer Tree have been extending peer support to young people in the community experiencing mental health distress. They provide a safe space for young adults to be open and honest about their mental wellbeing and help them navigate it.


The peer support groups are centred around community, creativity and conversation. Group leader volunteers also equip young adults to provide peer support for mental wellbeing in their own communities, focusing on conversations around mutual support, self-care, self-acceptance and coping strategies. The volunteers spent approximately 400 hours leading these social groups in 2021, working with about 125 young people. They’ve already put in hundreds of hours of volunteering this year despite the impacts from the pandemic.

Runner-up – Cashmere High Years 12 and 13

Hōhepa Canterbury is a disability support service provider offering diverse living options, learning and activity programmes, community participation and therapies. It supports 140 people with intellectual disabilities, helping them to live fully engaged lives. In 2021, Hōhepa joined with Cashmere High School to provide a volunteer programme focused on connecting Years 12 and 13 students with the people supported by Hōhepa. The students use their study break, and at times outside of school hours, to help with some of the activities and have a chat with participants.


Students take part in sports, games, helping with craft activities, supporting people in ‘Pamper Palace’ to paint their nails. They join groups where they can share their skills, such as arts or playing the trombone in the music group.


Runner-up – Youth Advisory Council, Canterbury District Health Board

The Youth Advisory Council has been working for rangatahi in Canterbury for the past eight years. The Council works alongside Canterbury District Health Board on a range of initiatives, including ensuring services are rangatahi friendly.


They deliver workshops for health professionals to support positive engagement with rangatahi and provide ‘backpacks’ for every rangatahi aged 14–24 who is admitted to hospital. These backpacks contain boredom busters and information related to their hospital stay. During pandemic-related restrictions, the Youth Advisory Council also provided podcasts on topics such as mental health and studying, and they run information evenings on health topics requested by the rangatahi.

Youth Health Volunteer – Individual Awards: Outstanding Achievement – Ethan Tauevihi-Kahika

Ethan Tauevihi-Kahika is a Volunteer Helpline Counsellor in Auckland. Ten years ago Ethan reached out to Youthline for help. He then chose to volunteer with them, taking part in their training programmes. Today, he is a Helpline Counsellor, a Helpline Mentor and a Training and Supervision Group Facilitator.


He provides leadership, guidance and support for volunteer counsellors as they begin their journey of supporting young people, and their peers, in need of help. He is particularly passionate about creating opportunities for young Māori and Pasifika volunteers at Youthline.

Runner-up – Ali Haidari

Ali is a Board advisor at Refugees as Survivors, which provides mental health and wellbeing services for people from refugee backgrounds who are now living in Aotearoa New Zealand. The group was established in 1995 as a non-denominational, politically neutral and non-aligned, not-for-profit charitable trust.


As a young adult, Ali was recruited onto the Refugees as Survivors Advisory Board in 2021 to represent youth mental health and LGBTQI+ awareness. He helps provide insight and guidance to the clinical team at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre, the Clinical Community Team and other clinical-based services. 

Long Service Team Awards: Outstanding Achievement – Telephone Helpline Volunteers, Samaritans of Wellington

amaritans Telephone Helpline Volunteers use active listening and support to help callers talk through what’s on their mind in complete confidence. This assists people to find clarity, perspective and resolution and not to feel isolated in their situation. Samaritans have been providing this service since 1966. Some of the volunteers have psychology or counselling backgrounds or lived experience with mental health issues or the suicide of family members or friends.


Each volunteer completes training and commits to set hours helping others. The volunteers range from Victoria University Psychology students requiring community experience, through to retirees wanting to help others. They bring experience from a wide variety of backgrounds. There have been 73 Telephone Helpline Service volunteers and the longest serving volunteer has been part of the Samaritans for 52 years.


Runner-up – Waitematā District Health Board Hospital Auxiliary

The Hospital Auxiliary Service at Waitematā District Health Board first started at North Shore Hospital in 1973, followed by Waitakere Hospital a year later. In the early days, the Hospital Auxiliary volunteers drove patients to and from appointments, made special clothing for adults and children, organised concerts at the hospital, took patients out to lunch, knitted items for patients, and generally provided comfort.


Over the years, some of these services and fundraising activities have ceased, however the drive to serve the hospital, its patients and their whānau remains the same. The current team of 26 volunteers has provided over 6,000 items across both North Shore and Waitakere Hospitals since August 2021 despite COVID restrictions. They also work and build connections with local communities, including Carmel College where Year 7 students volunteer their time to work with the Hospital Auxiliary Service.

Long Service – Individual Awards Outstanding Achievement: Anne Sinclair

Anne Sinclair has been volunteering with the Cancer Society since 1983. She is currently a Domain Lodge Host, guiding patients who are going through cancer with information, a listening ear and support, while they receive their treatment at Auckland Hospital. Anne has also been a volunteer driver, fundraiser, has prepared meals, soups and baking, and collects for the Cancer Society on Daffodil Day.

Runner-up – Jim Blood

im Blood has been a volunteer with Riding for the Disabled for over 20 years, starting out at Ambury Farm before moving to Whangarei and joining Whangarei Riding for the Disabled. He has been a committee member during this time and turns up twice weekly to be part of the Whangarei Riding for the Disabled programme.


Runner-up – Isla Ryan

Isla Ryan has been volunteering at Holmdene for over 20 years. She regularly bakes for the Cancer Society, unwell patients and their families and staff at Holmdene and also at Clutha Health First. She assists with residents’ outings, mends residents’ clothing and staff uniforms. She volunteers at the local Red Cross shop and delivers Meals on Wheels to the Community five days a week. She makes clothing for the maternity unit at Clutha Health First, blankets for Holmdene and contributes to the South Otago Diabetes branch.


Runner-up – Francie Basher

Francie Basher, of the Alzheimers Society in Tauranga, has been volunteering since 2005. She has been a long-time advocate for those living with dementia and provides support to the Alzheimers Society. She makes weekly visits into the homes of people with dementia to offer assistance and companionship, and respite for carers. She is currently befriending her 11th client with the Alzheimers Society.


She also contributes to the monthly Companion group, which engages those living with dementia in engaging conversations and interactive activities and serving morning tea and a shared lunch. Each year she assists in two annual collection appeals.

COVID Health Volunteer Team Awards: Outstanding Achievement – Kaikohe Health Shuttle

St John Kaikohe Health Shuttle has been going above and beyond to help keep people in Kaikohe and Northland’s more remote communities, and those who are unwell, safe during the pandemic. With only two volunteer drivers, they have ensured people are able to get to their medical appointments and vaccinations. The volunteer drivers keep the service running five days a week and are on call on weekends, even in previous COVID-related restrictions.


The judges were impressed by the lengths the drivers went to help the people of Kaikohe and surrounding districts – no matter the health status of the people they were transporting. This meant the volunteer drivers spent considerable time keeping themselves up to date with requisite infection prevention protocols.


The Kaikohe Health Shuttle volunteers are the Health Volunteer of the Year for 2022.

Runner-up - Team Muskaan Community Vaccination Champions

Team Muskaan’s Community Vaccination Champions have played a pivotal role in bridging mainstream health services with ethnic/minority communities and organisations. When the pandemic started, they began proactively working with their community and partner organisations to share information about COVID-19 in other languages, through community-led vaccination clinics across Auckland. They provided important support and addressed the concerns of people who were hesitant about the vaccinations. This went beyond COVID to general health and wellbeing.

Runner-up – Asian Healthline Support Volunteers, Waitematā District Health Board

Waitematā District Health Board’s Asian Healthline Support volunteer team is comprised of seven volunteers who are East Asian migrants and have been living in New Zealand for more than three years. They joined Waitematā DHB’s Volunteer Service in 2021. They have answered nationwide calls for COVID-19 related information, especially for non-English speaking people who needed support with things like My Vaccine Record. Volunteers supported between 200 and 500 calls a month. They also offered in-person support at the Albany vaccination centre and three local pharmacies. At the Super Saturday vaccination campaign, they helped by welcoming people and assisting with registrations and completing forms.


Runner-up – Companion Caller Team, Auckland District Health Board

The Companion Volunteers at Auckland District Health Board are experienced volunteers who normally visit Mana Awhi/Older Peoples’ Health, Ward 51 Stroke/Neurology and General Medicine Wards at Auckland Hospital. The Companion Caller Team came together in response to concerns about increased feelings of patient loneliness and isolation after the first Alert Level 4 restriction. The volunteers knew that patients on the wards they visited were predominantly 65 years plus and more likely to be long-stay patients. They shifted from in-person visits to offering emotional and cultural support by phone and video. Once visitor restrictions were lifted, they went out of their way to ensure patients who needed an extra hand during a difficult time, got exactly that.


Runner-up – Client Drivers, Cancer Society Central District

The Cancer Society’s Central Districts Client Driving Service has been operating for over 30 years, covering Taranaki, Whanganui, Manawatu, Hawkes Bay and Gisborne regions. The volunteers pick clients up from their home, take them to their medical appointments and return them back home when their appointment is finished.


The Omicron outbreak affected some of the usual services, meaning Cancer Society clients may not make it to their medical appointments if there was no driving service. With support from Mid-Central District Health Board, the client drivers were provided with appropriate personal protection gear and guidance on transporting clients during COVID. The drivers were given the opportunity to opt out, but not many did, even though they were at times knowingly transporting clients home who were positive with COVID.

COVID Health Volunteer Individual Awards: Outstanding Achievement – Louisa Cheung

Louisa Cheung has been volunteering in the East Auckland Asian and wider community for the past 15 years. She first began her volunteering journey supporting mental health patients, organising support groups and talk sessions, empowering individuals to find strength and self-worth and to not feel isolated. She shared her lived experience as a mental health patient herself. For the past five years, Louisa has focused on assisting elderly and seniors, helping them get to their medical appointments, facilitating their rehabilitation, and supporting their general health needs.


In 2021, she began volunteering in the Unichem Pakuranga COVID Vaccination Pharmacy. In this role she has been explaining the vaccination process, helping people who had never enrolled with a general practice to apply for a NHI, translating consent forms and information, and booking appointments. Louisa’s work also helped Unichem Pakuranga Pharmacy better understand the needs and barriers of the East Auckland Asian and wider community.


Runner-up – Chao Yu

Chao Yu has been supporting the roll out of flu vaccines as part of Counties Manukau Health’s Community Flu Fighters programme since 2020. During the COVID pandemic he has been promoting the importance of vaccination. As well as organising group bookings for the community outreach vaccination clinics, he has provided language support to Mandarin-speaking people and Cantonese-speaking vaccinators, to reduce barriers to vaccination for the community.


Runner-up – Rodney Whitmore

Rodney has been volunteering at Starship Hospital for the past three years, logging more than 1100 hours of volunteering over this time. Most of this has been as one of the Starship information desk volunteers, but more recently – just ahead of the Omicron surge – he played a major role in a new initiative called Te Pātaka Kai o Starship. This initiative provides extra sustenance for the hardworking Starship doctors, nurses and support staff. Rodney was almost solely in charge of the operation, which expanded to include putting together hundreds of meal packs for whānau who had to immediately go home and isolate due to COVID, and distributing packages from Make-a-Wish, which Rodney personally delivered.