Vince Cocurullo: Volunteering at heart of healthy community

The people behind the scenes, like volunteers, at events like the Women’s Rugby World Cup are vital. Photo / Michael Cunningham


Our district has just experienced one of the most successful sports events in the history of our country.

The Women’s Rugby World Cup broke records for live viewing and televised viewing. It drew crowds from across New Zealand, brought communities together and has elevated the popularity of women’s rugby across the world.

I was lucky to be one of many volunteers helping with the Whangārei matches, giving me a unique insight into the inner workings of the cup matches. The experience was a good reminder of how much work goes into planning, organising, managing, and rolling out these types of events.

It also highlighted just how important the ‘behind the scenes’ people are in making these events possible, such as volunteers, stadium staff, caterers, security guards and traffic management teams. These are the people who pull together for months (and in this case, years) before an event, and they’re also the last ones cleaning up and packing away after everyone else has gone home.

Without the background crew, our most celebrated and enjoyed events just wouldn’t be possible.

As we head into a busy Christmas season maybe take the time to help out at a local event. Photo / Michael Cunningham
As we head into a busy Christmas season maybe take the time to help out at a local event. Photo / Michael Cunningham

So many of our district’s events rely on support from our community, from local market days and festivals such as the Summer Safe Carparks programme (one of my personal favourites), Fringe Festival and our Christmas celebrations, through to A&P shows and our Festival of Motorsports. These popular community events would not go ahead without the input from community groups and volunteers and a lot of grassroots community support.

We’re about to enter an extremely busy Christmas event and activity season – which is great news for our district, but can be an exhausting time for those who are regulars on the volunteering circuit. If you’ve never volunteered before, why not give it a go now? Most events will advertise contact details, and most organisers would be grateful for an extra set of hands to help out.

My challenge to you this Christmas season is to look for a local event, activity or initiative, reach out and ask how you can help. You may be surprised at the benefits of donating your time and energy: you’ll meet a great new bunch of people, enjoy new experiences, connect more into your local community, and have more to talk about at your next family function!

Possibly the most important benefit of getting involved in volunteering work is the impact it can have on your mental wellbeing. Studies have shown that connectivity is one of the keys to happiness, as is the selfless feeling of ‘giving back’. When we volunteer our time and energy, we’re helping ourselves and our communities … Win-win!

If you’re interested in finding out more about volunteering in Whangārei, check out Volunteering Northland (, or talk to one of Whangārei’s many Rotary, Lions or service clubs. Helping out or volunteering your time benefits more than just the community, it helps us to connect to one another.

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