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Volunteers important part of museum family

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Volunteers come in many forms and they do a huge amount of social good. It’s hard to imagine a life without volunteers and we would certainly be all the poorer without them. Volunteers assist across vast and ranging areas – from Citizen Advice, victim support, school boards, community boards, hospice, churches, charity shops, beach and nature clean-ups and the list goes on. Volunteers are people who care about the community, the planet, heritage, education, future generations – they are people who give back and pay it forward.

Many of you may have found yourselves volunteering in a variety of ways following Cyclone Gabrielle and many carry on doing so as the long road to recovery continues.

At MTG our volunteers come from a variety of avenues. School students do Duke of Edinburgh and other volunteering at the museum. This usually involves helping our Customer Service and Education staff – preparing material for education programmes, the drop-in-zone, event preparation, etc. Other volunteers who help with our public facing activities come because they themselves have enjoyed events at the museum, like engaging with people, are generally outgoing and want to assist. This wonderful team helps with hosting at exhibition openings, customer service during significant events, hosting in galleries and much more.

Our Foundation and Trust Board are all volunteers, providing support for acquiring new collection items, governance and guidance around where we are heading as an institution, and ensuring the long term care and protection of the collection. The Chairs of both these bodies are also important stalwarts and advisors for me in my role as MTG Director.
The majority of our volunteers are hidden ‘behind the scenes’, helping our collection team. The roles they fulfil range from data entry, scanning, packing, sewing covers for items, helping to get material out for exhibitions or visits to the collection and putting them away again.

A smaller number of volunteers provide specific specialised skills – for example preparing costumes for display on mannequins for exhibition. It always amazes me to hear where these people come from and how they find us – some moved from front facing volunteering roles while we were closed to address the sprinklers and have loved working with the collections and the team so much they have stayed there.

Others have sought us out due to their backgrounds and interests. Some come to us from EIT and at least one has come through the Knowledge Bank. There are also some of our staff who, outside of their regular role, volunteer with the collections team as well.

So why do they do it? Well, aside from their obvious community spirit, volunteers get to engage in different areas of society, meet other likeminded people, learn new skills, keep active, learn about the collection and different stories of Te Matau-a-Māui / Hawke’s Bay.

Our volunteers are an important part of our museum family and we learn much from them with their different life experiences, work histories and backgrounds. They are a huge and vital part of the life blood of the museum.

Today marks the end of New Zealand’s Volunteer Week and so it is an appropriate time to acknowledge and thank our amazing team of volunteers. We couldn’t do half of what we do without them!!

Published in the Hawke’s Bay Today newspaper 24 June 2023 and written by Laura Vodanovich, Director at MTG Hawke’s Bay.

26 June 2023

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