2021 Minister of Health Volunteer Award recipients

Health Minister Andrew Little has announced the recipients of the 2021 Minister of Health Volunteer Awards. Minister Little presented awards to the Overall Health Volunteers of the Year and category winners on 17 August and thanked all health volunteers for their contribution to the health and wellbeing of others.

On this page:


Health Volunteer of the Year

Outstanding achievement by a team - Buddies Peer Support Service volunteer team

Outstanding achievement by a team - Buddies Peer Support Service volunteer team

Buddies Peer Support Service volunteers have been extending peer support to people seeking wellness for 20 years in the acute recovery wards of Te Whare O Matairangi (Wellington Hospital) and 5 years at Te Whare Ahuru (Hutt Hospital). Buddies volunteers ‘walk alongside’ people experiencing mental health crisis and addiction and share their own lived experience of recovery and coping strategies. They work to destigmatise mental health and foster a supportive community of belonging, promoting recovery and self-care.

In 2020 these volunteers spent 454 hours extending peer support and more than 450 hours in the first six months of 2021, despite multiple lockdowns and restrictions on visiting the hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic. There are currently 40 volunteers and since the beginning of 2020 they’ve made a difference to the lives of 260 people seeking wellness.

Outstanding achievement by an individual - Hughie Hughes

Outstanding achievement by an individual - Hughie Hughes

Hughie Hughes is 87 years old and has been supporting St John Health Shuttle services on the East Coast for approximately 60 years.

Not only has he given his time, but also monetary support to enable the Health Shuttle service to operate. When the medical centre in Tikitiki burnt down in 2017, he donated two cars to the community for volunteers to take people to medical appointments at Ruatoria, Te Araroa and Te Puia. He finances these cars, including petrol, registration and servicing of the cars. He makes stools and tables to sell in his second-hand shop, and also pots vegetable plants and native shrubs to sell in the shop. The money from these sales goes to the St John Health Shuttle on the East Coast.

Health care provider service team volunteers

Outstanding achievement – Waitemata District Health Board Hospital Auxiliary

Outstanding achievement – Waitemata District Health Board Hospital Auxiliary

Waitemata District Health Board’s Hospital Auxiliary Service was established more than 40 years ago. The service is currently made up of 26 volunteers across both North Shore and Waitakere Hospitals. Its mission is for the comfort of patients and staff.

The volunteers provide items such as emergency clothing, layettes for new babies, toiletries, comfort pillows, activity books. Some of these items are made at home or on site in their sewing house at North Shore Hospital; others have been donated by local communities.

The Hospital Auxiliary Service volunteers distributed over 6,500 items to patient and their families during the 2019 – 2020 year. They adapt quickly to the evolving needs of Waitemata District Health Board and is community. Last year, as part of the COVID-19 response, several of the volunteers worked up to five days a week and made 400 reusable face masks within a month for a residential mental health care unit.

Runner-up - Friends of Ashburton Hospital and Tuarangi and Elizabeth Street Day Centre Volunteers

Every year, thousands of people will be admitted to Ashburton Hospital, around 3,000 day patients will receive care, many thousands more patients will attend outpatient clinics and more than 130 mothers will give birth.

They are looked after by two bands of volunteers – Friends of Ashburton Hospital and Tuarangi, and Elizabeth Street Day Centre Volunteers (about 50 in total).

These volunteers, known as friends, provide as much support to inpatients as they can, from making cups of tea to maintaining a library trolley, taking patients to chapel services, knitting for the birthing unit, assisting diversional therapists, organising musical events and decorating the Christmas tree. They’ve been doing this for 45 years.

At the Elizabeth Street Day Centre, the volunteers engage in activities, provide entertainment and baking and organise day trips so that members, who would otherwise be confined to their homes, can have time out of their normal daily routines.

Runner-up - St John – Friends of the Emergency Department Nelson and Wairau teams

St John – Friends of the Emergency Department are part of the St John Community Care Programme.

The Nelson team, established in 2007, currently has 24 volunteers who provide non-clinical comfort, information and support to patients and their families in hospital emergency departments. Three of the volunteers were part of the original group. They cover at least two four-hourly shifts every day of the year, including public holidays and weekends.

The Wairau team currently has nine members, of which three were original members from when this team formed in 2011.

These volunteers provide comfort, friendship and assistance to patients and their families, whether it’s by talking or reading with them, giving directions or providing refreshments.

Health care provider service individual volunteers

Outstanding achievement - Hoani Tainui

Outstanding achievement - Hoani Tainui

Hoani joined St John Ambulance as a volunteer on the West Coast in 2010, quickly completing his First Responder qualification and followed this by gaining Authority to Practice as an Emergency Medical Technician in 2014. He moved to a fulltime paid role in 2016 but has continued to contribute significant hours of volunteer service.

He is a Volunteer Team Leader, and more recently Volunteer Team Manager with Christchurch Operations Thursday Team. He makes time on his days off to continue his commitment as a volunteer, leading team nights and skill training sessions. He also volunteers as a ‘Station Guardian’ for Lyttleton Station, ensuring it exceeds compliance and audit requirements, is kept well-maintained and operationally ready. He regularly provides treats for volunteer crews responding from there.

Outstanding achievement - Wendy Peacock, Hospital Grandmother at Starship Child Health

Outstanding achievement - Wendy Peacock, Hospital Grandmother at Starship Child Health

Wendy volunteers twice a week, travelling from outer Auckland. She first began volunteering in February 1997. Her preferred ward is the Children’s Oncology Ward, but she is well-known throughout Starship Hospital by medical staff, the children and their families.

When the parent or caregiver lives in with the child at Starship, they may need a break or to offload some of the stresses they go through. That’s when Wendy steps in.

The medical staff know her as a very trusted and knowledgeable volunteer who conducts safe practice and Wendy has also become a role model for other grandparent volunteers.

Community or NGO Health Service Team Awards

Outstanding Achievement – Hutt Buddies Peer Support volunteers

Outstanding Achievement – Hutt Buddies Peer Support volunteers

Buddies Peer Support Service volunteers have been extending peer support to people seeking wellness for 20 years in the acute recovery wards of Te Whare O Matairangi (Wellington Hospital) and 5 years at Te Whare Ahuru (Hutt Hospital). Buddies volunteers ‘walk alongside’ people experiencing mental health crisis and addiction and share their own lived experience of recovery and coping strategies. They work to destigmatise mental health and foster a supportive community of belonging, promoting recovery and self-care.

In 2020 these volunteers spent 454 hours extending peer support and more than 450 hours in the first six months of 2021, despite multiple lockdowns and restrictions on visiting the hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic. There are currently 40 volunteers and since the beginning of 2020 they’ve made a difference to the lives of 260 people seeking wellness.

Buddies Peer Support Service volunteers were also Health Volunteer of the Year – Team for 2021.

Outstanding Achievement - Good Night Sleep Tight Charitable Trust

Outstanding Achievement - Good Night Sleep Tight Charitable Trust

Good Night Sleep Tight was established in 2016 to stop children sleeping in substandard conditions. Since winter 2017, more than 1500 children have received a package personally named, which contains pyjamas, a singlet, a dressing gown, slippers, flannelette sheets, blankets, comforters, a hat and a book.

The staff of six volunteer trustees holds several fundraising events each year to be able to provide the region’s most vulnerable children with these basic necessities. They’ve made it easy for people in needing these necessities by creating a simple referral form which professional organisations such as the Public Health Nursing Service, He Waka Tapu, Early Start Project, Te Puawaitanga ki Otautahi Trust and others can access.

Runner-up – Guide Dog volunteers

Volunteers are an essential part of the team that enable Blind Low Vision New Zealand to provide guide dogs to those who require a guide dog within the Blind Low Vision community.

George and Robyn Brock, Lindsay Peel, and Karen and Dave Pike have been collectively been breeding, raising, training and boarding dogs for many years.

George and Robyn are not only breeding stock guardians and puppy raisers for Blind Low Vision New Zealand, but also keep the wider group up-to-date on what’s happening with a monthly catch-up for volunteers in the Rodney region and regular email updates.

Whenever asked, Lindsay opens up her home to guide dogs and provides the dogs with a safe learning environment.

Karen and Dave are puppy raisers and boarders, and provide general assistance at Blind Low Vision New Zealand’s Breeding and Development Centre.

Runner-up – Deaf Wellbeing Society Volunteers

The Deaf Wellbeing Society Incorporated is a not-for-profit Deaf-led community organisation. Its purpose is to empower and enrich the lives of the Deaf through education and to reduce isolation through social contact.

Many of the Society’s clients have very low English literacy. The volunteers take clients shopping, to the doctor and then to the pharmacy where they will make sure the client understands why the doctor is giving them medication and how they should be taking it.

They provide sessions such as Art Club and Cooking Club where the clients can learn how to care for themselves. During the COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020 they delivered parcels to their clients, which included toilet paper, milk, bread, masks, activities and other necessary items.

Runner-up - Sherwood Club Volunteers, Alzheimers Gisborne/Tairawhiti

The Sherwood Club caters for up to 20 day-residents three times a week. The 15 Sherwood Club Volunteers range in age from 16 to 75 years.

All of the day residents are affected by dementia and require one-on-one care. Having volunteers helps ensure the two staff can provide quality care, without having to restrict the activities offered. Each volunteer is matched to the task they are most suited to, such as gardening, meal preparation, crafts or playing games.

An increasing number of the Sherwood Club Volunteers come from local high schools and are using their volunteering to gain work experience.

Runner-up – Alzheimers Marlborough Volunteers

Alzheimers Marlborough has more than 40 volunteers who play an important role in the running of the day centre, five days a week. They pick up and drop off clients, assist with morning and afternoon teas and lunch, and enable Alzheimers Marlborough to run a stimulating programme of activities. Some days there are 30 clients at the centre, enjoying activities such as walking groups, singing, exercise and crafts.

The care partners of those living with dementia often face social isolation or loneliness and the volunteers have become friends to many, often helping with things like shopping or dropping off a meal for the family.

Community or NGO Health Service Individual Awards

Outstanding Achievement – Annette Wilkinson

Outstanding Achievement – Annette Wilkinson

Annette is the Friends of the Emergency Department Team Leader, St John (Hutt Valley). In this role Annette leads a team of 65 volunteers, all of whom provide non-clinical support, comfort and care to patients and their families when they visit the emergency department of Hutt Hospital. This frees up time for nursing and medical staff to do their clinical roles.

Volunteers provide this service 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. Annette is the liaison between St John, her team of volunteers, and Hutt Valley District Health Board. She is also responsible for the volunteers’ day-to-day operations, including rostering, organising team meetings, on-going training, recruitment and training of new volunteers, and volunteer welfare. It is the largest St John Hospital team in New Zealand.

Runner-up - Hannah Young

While working as a Diversional Therapy Tutor, Hannah observed some aged care facilities had fewer resources than others. She founded The Therapy Box in 2015 and has been volunteering and providing financial support for it ever since.

Hannah is The Therapy Box’s general manager. She runs its library, applies for funding, recruits and manages volunteers, visits care facilities to provide support and advice regarding their activity programmes and is a guest speaker at conferences. 

During COVID-19 lockdowns Hannah obtained funding to supply activities that would be safe to use when social distancing is required. A total of 477 disposable activity kits were sent to care facilities throughout New Zealand.

Runner-up - Abbey Fouche

Abbey is the chief executive and founder of The Mums Clique Charity, creating a place where mothers who struggle with their mental health can find a safe haven and get assistance.

Abbey works tirelessy for The Mums Clique, being the friendly face for struggling mothers to turn to and carrying out donation drives. She has reached out to over 35,000 families in need and given them access to mothers in similar situations. Since 2020, 3000 free essential support boxes have been sent to families in need.

Māori Health Service volunteer

Outstanding Achievement - Wiki Todd

Outstanding Achievement - Wiki Todd

Wiki is a St John First Responder, responding to emergencies in the isolated areas of Kaeo and Whangaroa. She is the first on the scene to treat and reassure her patients until a transporting ambulance arrives from out of the area. She has given up many hours of her own time to attend course and complete her training at ambulance stations around Northland.

She is also a Māori warden, helping families in need and families of domestic violence, and supporting vulnerable youth. She works with local schools to build bridges with families. She is a member of the Kaeo Primary School Board of Trustees, secretary for the Whangaroa Health Trust, a member of the Cavalli Island Fire Fighters and a tireless worker at her local marae.

Pacific Health Service Volunteer Team

Outstanding Achievement - Tongan Society South Canterbury

Outstanding Achievement - Tongan Society South Canterbury

Established five years ago, the Tongan Society South Canterbury brings together, supports and empowers Tongan and other Pasifika communities, fanau, families and kāinga (extended family).

The Society has several Health and Total Wellbeing projects and initiatives underway to provide education, reduce barriers to healthcare and promote healthy lifestyles.

Their most recent project is the ‘Healthy Family Campaign,’ which began in March with an eight-week programme of pre-season rugby training. Around 90 people took part with older rugby players mentoring the younger players, building their confidence and skills.

This was followed by a Family Fun Day in collaboration with Arowhenua Whānau Services and the South Canterbury District Health Board measles, mumps and rubella promotion. There were health checks, vaccinations, healthy eating discussions – accompanied by healthy food – and a range of physical activities.

Pacific Health Service Individual Volunteer

Outstanding Achievement - Tapaita Hakaumotu

Outstanding Achievement - Tapaita Kakaumotu

Paita’s early years were disrupted by hospital stays and tests. She has a tumour at the back of her head and has had a shunt in there since she was a toddler.

Paita has been volunteering at AvaNiu Pasifika Ltd for nearly five years. During this time she has experienced her own health challenges, particularly during the COVID-19 lockdown. Earlier this year she took up studies to improve her written and verbal comprehension, successfully achieved her Learner’s Licence and was instrumental in establishing the Pasifika Student Peer support at Toi Ohomai Polytech.

Increased confidence resulted in Paita putting herself forward to be a participant in a research project relating to young Pasifika with a disability. She was also nominated to take on a key executive role on a community group focusing on youth development.

Youth Health Service Volunteer Team

Outstanding Achievement – Recreate New Zealand volunteers: Ella Speight, Konrad Schutte and Liam Keating

Outstanding Achievement – Recreate New Zealand volunteers: Ella Speight, Konrad Schutte and Liam Keating

Recreate New Zealand runs adventure, social, recreation and education programmes for young people with intellectual and learning disabilities.

Ella, Konrad and Liam are Recreate New Zealand programme leaders. This involves being a friend to the young people who attend Recreate programmes, encouraging them to try new things, make new friends and ensure they are happy and safe when they are taking part in the programmes.

Ella, aged 20, has been volunteering at Recreate for a year and spent over 250 hours on Recreate programmes. Konrad, who’s 22, began volunteering with Recreate in January 2019 and has spent more than 250 hours volunteering over this time. Liam, 23, joined Recreate NZ in 2020, just after Alert Level 4 lockdown. Since then he has spent over 250 hours volunteering on many Recreate NZ programmes around the Upper North Island.

Outstanding Achievement - Team Westlake Boys and Westlake Girls High Schools

Outstanding Achievement - Team Westlake Boys and Westlake Girls High Schools

The Weekend Volunteer Team at North Shore Hospital is made up of around 40 year 11 to year 13 students from Westlake Boys and Westlake Girls High Schools.  These students volunteer their weekends, while balancing their school studies, to support North Shore Hospital to enhance its patient experiences. Each school has student leaders who coordinate recruitment, rosters and tasks every Saturday and Sunday throughout the school year. They conduct feedback surveys by interviewing patients and interact with patients through conversation and leading activity groups in North Shore Hospital’s rehabilitation wards.

The programme began three years ago with a small number of students and has been so popular that a recruitment process has been introduced to ensure volunteers are both able to commit to the programme and are interested in a future career in health. Many students who have participated have gone on to study health at university and also take on casual or part time jobs at the hospital while they study.

Youth Health Volunteer Individual Award

Outstanding Achievement – Lorenzo Chambers

Outstanding Achievement – Lorenzo Chambers

Lorenzo is a 15-year old student at St Peter’s College, Gore. He began volunteering with The Hugo Charitable Trust when he was 13 years old. Living Options provides services for people with a disability in the Central Otago/Whakatipu area.

Lorenzo’s roles are varied and include providing support to young people with disabilities and assisting the Trust’s Support Tutors. Since 2019 he has done this every school holiday.

Runner-up – Sangwoo Lee

Sangwoo began volunteering for the Anxiety Helpline after completing training in November 2018 and was promoted to Duty Manager when he finished additional training in August 2010. The Anxiety Helpline is a free nationwide service that operates 24/7, every day of the year, and provides support, education and anxiety management for those living with anxiety and their whānau/family and friends.

 In his first year, Sangwoo volunteered for 482 hours across 43 shifts and in his second year 384 hours across 37 shifts – the highest number of hours each year by an Anxiety Helpline volunteer. He has also supported junior team members, regularly facilitating debriefing groups at monthly meetings and supervising role play at Anxiety Helpline training. He is aged 22.

Long Service

Outstanding Achievement – Hughie Hughes

Outstanding Achievement – Hughie Hughes

Hughie is 87 years old and has been supporting St John Health Shuttle services on the East Coast for around 60 years.

Not only has he given his time, but also monetary support to enable the Health Shuttle service to operate. When the medical centre in Tikitiki burnt down in 2017, he donated two cars to the community for volunteers to take people to medical appointments at Ruatoria, Te Araroa and Te Puia. He finances these cars, including petrol, registration and servicing of the cars. He makes stools and tables to sell in his second-hand shop, and also pots vegetable plants and native shrubs to sell in the shop. The money from these sales goes to the St John Health Shuttle on the East Coast.

Hughie Hughes was also the recipient of the Health Volunteer of the Year – Individual Award.

Outstanding Achievement – Marie Jujnovich

Outstanding Achievement – Marie Jujnovich

Marie has been supporting children suffering from childhood heart conditions and their families for the past 30 years as a Volunteer Family Support Worker.

She started volunteering at Green Lane Hospital in 1991, spending four days a week on the wards. Following the transfer of the paediatric team in 2003, she has been supporting children and their whānau on ward 23b at Starship Hospital. Now 85 years-old, she is still on the ward, where she’s known affectionately as Nana Marie, two days a week from 6.30am to 2.00pm. 

Marie is the grandmother of a heart child and just as she supported her daughter and grandson through a similar experience, she shares her lived experience. She was nominated by Heart Kids New Zealand.

Back to top