VSA was set up in 1962 amid an exciting world climate that talked of the challenge to eradicate world poverty. Within its first year, New Zealand’s very own volunteering agency was sending volunteers to Thailand and Samoa.
In February 1963, Sir Edmund Hillary became VSA’s founding President, a role he continued in for 13 years, steering VSA forward with his unique brand of support and expertise.
More than 50 years on, we are still going strong. In the 1960s, most of our volunteers taught in schools. Today the range of assignments is much broader. VSA's project partners, once mostly host governments, now include a range of government agencies, NGOs (non-governmental organisations), corporates and community organisations.
Our programmes in Melanesia and Timor-Leste are managed from our Wellington office but in-country programme managers in each Melanesian country and Timor-Leste provide on-the-ground support to volunteers and partner organisations and we also have a local staff member in Samoa.
We are an incorporated society and our members vote on resolutions at an AGM (annual general meeting) held every November. VSA is guided by our Kaumātua and a governing body of nine people. The Council meets five or six times each year to agree ongoing policy and activities. Our council works closely with VSA’s CEO, Stephen Goodman, to oversee policy and strategic implementation.
Stephen Goodman joined VSA in September 2017 as CEO following 33 years in the Royal New Zealand Air Force, part of the New Zealand Defence Force. Initially trained and employed as a specialist Logistics Officer, including undertaking advanced logistics management training with the Royal Air Force in the United Kingdom, the early part of his career saw him serve in a range of logistics leadership roles around New Zealand and in Australia. The latter part of his career saw Stephen move into a broader and more senior range of leadership roles within operations, strategic planning, policy development, business transformation, and the diplomatic representation areas. Stephen deployed twice on operations, firstly to East Timor (now Timor Leste) in 2001 where he was part of an international team assisting the development of the new nation’s security structure in the lead up to independence, then to the Solomon Islands in 2004 where he was the Senior National Officer commanding the New Zealand Defence Force contingent to the Regional Assistance Mission Solomon Islands (RAMSI). From 2008 until 2010 Stephen was the Defence Attaché within the New Zealand High Commission in Singapore. Stephen was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) in the 2005 New Year Honours for his leadership role in operations.
Stephen has a Masters in Philosophy from Massey University, and a Master of Arts from Deakin (Australia) University, and is a Fellow of the Australian Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies in Canberra, Australia where in 2013 he attended a 12-month long executive strategic leadership course.