Student Volunteer Army to launch national volunteer service days

Sam Johnson speaks with Prince Harry at the University of Canterbury in 2015.
IAIN MCGREGOR/FAIRFAX NZ

Sam Johnson speaks with Prince Harry at the University of Canterbury in 2015.

A new initiative encouraging members of the public to undertake volunteering work has been described as a "legacy and tribute to Christchurch".

Serve New Zealand will be piloted on Anzac Day, coinciding with the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services' Association's centenary.

Announcing the launch on Monday, five years after the February 22 earthquake, Canterbury Student Volunteer Army (SVA) founder Sam Johnson said he believed Serve New Zealand was the best way to continue the legacy of the SVA and other groups such as The Farmy Army.

The launch of Serve New Zealand signalled the culmination of a discussion the SVA had with Prince Harry during his visit to Christchurch in 2015.

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"When he came we had a round table discussion and he was really interested in veterans and retired veterans and young people," Johnson said.

"The idea is also to move the dialogue a wee bit from thinking what happened to Christchurch is only relevant to Christchurch."

The initiative was about learning from what had happened in Christchurch to help build stronger communities, he said.

"Whether that's by helping out their elderly neighbour, picking up rubbish along their local walking route, killing some rats or stoats to save NZ birds or by offering time to help their favourite charity, we want to connect neighbours through service," Johnson said. 

The SVA had received the ANZAC of the year award, so Johnson said partnering with the RSA was a "logical step".

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Prince Harry partly inspired the idea after talking to the group about the untapped resources and skill base of retired military and emergency service personnel.

 - Stuff

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