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Why volunteer with VSA?  

Volunteer Service Abroad - Te Tūao Tāwāhi (VSA) is New Zealand’s largest and most experienced volunteer agency working in international development.  

VSA offers New Zealanders the opportunity to expand their horizons through volunteering – living and working with partners in the Pacific and beyond for the experience of a lifetime – transforming volunteers’ lives as well as those they work with.  

We send skilled Kiwis overseas to share their experience and knowledge directly with local people and communities. Since 1962 we have recruited more than 3,500 New Zealanders. Our volunteers come from a wide range of backgrounds, from business mentors and lawyers to doctors and eco-tourism operators.  

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How does VSA work? 

We work with communities and community organisations. We don’t decide what communities need; they decide themselves. 

All VSA assignments are created by local people to meet local needs – so our volunteers only work where there is a genuine need. Assignments are based on our principle of skill sharing, where committed volunteers work alongside local people to help them build a better future for themselves and their children. 

Our partner organisations overseas include regional and central government agencies, local and national NGOs, education and health bodies and individual schools, colleges and health clinics. 

We work with partners to make sure that all our assignments are locally identified, locally relevant, and locally delivered. Our goal is to transfer skills and knowledge so that the changes achieved during an assignment remain sustainable after a volunteer returns to New Zealand. 

Normally, in the Pacific and beyond, Kiwi volunteers work on everything from disaster recovery in Vanuatu to special education in Samoa and safe drinking water in Timor-Leste. Together with our partners, VSA volunteers build local businesses, provide education and improve health, safeguard the environment and foster good governance, delivering community-driven and owned projects. 


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What’s in it for me and how can I benefit? 

Volunteering is a unique way to use your skills in a new environment, become embedded in a new culture and make friends for life.  

Volunteers with VSA have the satisfaction of knowing that they are making a positive difference in the world. Volunteers, partner organisations and communities work together, sharing skills and knowledge. This approach leads to improved quality of life and helps build self-determining communities and stable nations. 

We asked our returned volunteers what they got out of volunteering, and without exception they all said they got far more than they gave, including: 

  • Increased resilience 

  • Patience and an entirely new way of seeing the world. 

  • New friends and colleagues - 85% of respondents have kept in touch with people they worked with on assignment – some for decades 

  • A sense of commitment to their new communities and  renewed commitment to their home communities. 

  • 84% of returned volunteers scored their assignment eight out of ten and above. 


“As a Pasifika person born and bred in the Pacific I wanted to give back to the Pacific and share my experience and knowledge.” 

“I had so many highlights in the classroom such as when a child would excitedly and proudly show me the work they had been doing. Or when the whole class would be totally engaged with following the teacher’s directions and just observing the laughing, hearing the singing of songs or watching them playing games.” 

“The people are wonderful to work with and very open, receptive and pleased to see us. Travelling has allowed me to see the reality of life in PNG and some of the difficulties people (both with and without disabilities) have to live with.” 


What our partners say 

“We really appreciate the partnership and support that we receive from VSA…It makes a real difference to the success of our organisation.” Mana Dortia Kese, Director, HAFOTI Collective, Timor Leste. 

“I’ve noticed the VSA volunteers are open-minded and friendly people and willing to provide as much support as they can. Moreover, VSA sends good candidates that we like and have the right background for what we want.” Senghorng Tout, Enterprise and Development and Marketing Facilitator, International Development Enterprises (iDE) Cambodia Agribusiness Development Facility  

“This is SIBC’s first time working with VSA and we greatly appreciate Pip’s knowledge and experience.” Moddie Nanau, Manager Sales and Marketing, Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation 

“The work Martin is doing is supporting the vision of the school. We really appreciate the cooperation of New Zealand through VSA as it helps to open doors to the development of teachers and students.” Uere Toorua, Principal, King George V and Elaine Bernacchi School, Kiribati. 

Our support for volunteers 

We offer both long (12 months and over) and short-term assignments and currently work in Melanesia, Polynesia, Cambodia and Timor-Leste. 

VSA covers the costs of flights, accommodation, visas, insurance, and medical costs. Volunteers also receive a living and baggage allowance. We also cover the costs for couples who apply for longer-term assignments (six months or over).   

We provide all our volunteers with a comprehensive pre-departure briefing and training (four days in Wellington), In-country orientation and language training, and safety and security support. 

When our volunteers return we provide debriefing and career counselling as well as membership to VSAConnect - our network of returned volunteers. 

Watch our volunteer “On Assignment” videos  

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Connecting people - transforming lives