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In praise of volunteers

Written By: - Date published: 9:20 am, October 14th, 2011 - 14 comments
Categories: disaster, Social issues - Tags: ,

While there’s plenty of criticism flying around about the slow response to the Rena disaster, it is properly directed high up the decision making chain. As usual the people in the front lines are working hard. And as is too often the case, some of them are doing so in dangerous circumstances, and at personal risk. Our thanks should go out to them.

Thanks also to the volunteers who are turning up in their hundreds for the cleanup effort. It’s great that the rules (which they were previously breaking) have been stretched to accommodate them, and there is now a training program in place (photo pinched from that 3News story).  What a heart breaking job these good people face. But it’s inspiring to see them rally round.

In fact, while we’re on the subject – thank you to volunteers everywhere. We’re lucky to live in a country with such a generous and active volunteer tradition. Give me community over the invisible hand any day. Let’s hear it for the volunteers.

14 comments on “In praise of volunteers ”

  1. alex 1

    Well done to everyone who turned out, though lets face it, if not them, then who?

  2. ak 2

    Well said r0b. Yes, well past time to ignore the so-called fat-cat “experts” who are slowly wrecking our economy and environment with their neanderthal, thumb-twiddling faith in the law of the jungle.

    OCCUPY THE BEACH! (and bring a spade)

  3. It was good to meet yesterday Anthony, albeit briefly, thanks for saying hello. Might see you a bit more over the next few weeks.

    Here’s some interesting praise for a volunteer:

    Peter Dunne will also be introducing Pete George – his new United Future candidate for Dunedin North. George is a very impressive local political activist and intellectual, and could well turn out to be the surprise success in this year’s Dunedin North campaign.


    This can’t be right. I can’t be an intellectual, I haven’t even been to Uni.

    • Blighty 3.1

      It’s not the first time Bryce Edwards has been wrong.

      • lprent 3.1.1

        I think he may be being ironic?

        You don’t have to go to university to be an intellectual (but it helps). In the same way that you don’t have to be a unionist to be a left activist (but it helps). Or the same way that you don’t have to do a compsci or information systems course to be a good programmer (but it helps)…

    • r0b 3.2

      Good to meet you too Pete, and I followed the Vote Chat on the web, thought you spoke well.

  4. Fair and Balanced? 4

    There is an opportunity here for Labour to buy some voters:

    Offer a tax credit to registered volunteers.

    In today’s world, volunteering is somewhat obsolete, reserved for zealots, idealists and those unaware of what is going on. This is dangerous work, without proper protection; it’s unpaid, while beside paid professionals; it’s casual work without any of the legal protections; it’s carrying the cost from the insurance companies; and you sign away liability by registering. Bad form all round. Tax credit, at least, please.

  5. Bob 5

    People checking out the beaches have been tracking the sludge , heavy fuel oil , back onto the roads and footpaths around the mount / papamoa area . this is highly toxic sludge containing Benzene which is carcinogenic . MNZ director Catherine Taylor this morning warned people not to touch it .
    It was so toxic that one young woman helping with the clean up had used her cellphone and wiped the numbers off the face plate , Ms Taylor said “Wow nasty stuff”

    • insider 5.1

      That’s teh biggest issue, the spread of mess by uncontrolled but well meaning people. They usually have equipment cleaning stations set up to control this.

      The toxic issue is overcooked. People work with thousands of tonnes of this stuff all the time. Smearing the paint off your phone means it is a solvent – I mean, who’da guessed that petroleum products can act as solvents?

      • McFlock 5.1.1

        I agree to a certain extent, but the other issue is exposure level and risk to responders over subsequent years – an issue partially brought to the fore by a building collapse event that shall not be named. So I do think that these days it’s a reasonable thing to consider – although as you say it’s probably not quite so serious as having the stuff tracked all over the place.

      • Bob 5.1.2

        Benzene is a known carcinogen , the American Petroleum Institute stated that the only safe concentration of Benzene is zero , it has been phased out of gasoline – I mean who would have figured that none of those volunteers had adequate masks on . This is why they were telling people living close by to keep the windows closed , not that locals can get away from the fumes and most want to help where they can .

        • insider

          From the MSDSs Ive seen it’s only about 1-2%, a bit mroe than petrol. As it’s an aromatic you’d expect it to evaporate off pretty quickly before comign ashore. Remember our roads are made of very similar material, and no-one seems to worried about them.

          • Bob

            The difference between HFO and bitumen is that bitumen is applied to the road surface hot , which is when it can burn skin . HFO contains carcinogens that should not be inhaled or have prolonged exposure on the skin , harmful to aquatic organisms , can cause long term adverse effects in the aquatic environment , has the potential to bioaccumulate . Which of these two products that the volunteers come into contact with is the greater threat ?
            Assuming the bitumen is not on fire .

  6. George D 6

    Hear hear. Here’s to New Zealand’s hundreds of thousands of volunteers. So important, but rarely recognised.

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