It is National Volunteer Week here in New Zealand. The week, which was founded by Volunteering New Zealand, honours and celebrates the collective efforts of volunteers in Aotearoa.
New Zealand is a nation of volunteers, with more than one million people giving their time and energy to give back to their communities.
At Fonterra, we are 12,000 employees and 9,000 farming families strong, and many of our people work together to put good quality nutrition in the hands of those who need it most, protect and regenerate the environment, and to provide support to keep our communities strong.
Fire and Emergency NZ
Our Co-op has around 150 employees who volunteer for Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ), in over 60 fire stations across the country. In some communities, our employees make up over 40% of the fire crews.
That is certainly the case in Edgecumbe, where the local site is right next door to the fire station. Of the crew of 22 in the brigade, 10 of them work for Fonterra.
Fonterra Edgecumbe Energy Centre Operator Tracey Lloyd has been a Volunteer Firefighter for over 10 years.
She decided to become a Volunteer Firefighter to protect the community that she lives in, and to make people feel safe.
“My parents were dairy farmers and I used to drive past the fire station all the time. I always used to look at the fire station and think ‘I should go in there’. And then one day, I finally did,” said Tracey.
“It brings a lot of comfort to people, that we’re there to help whether it’s big or small – we could be going to somebody's house because their smoke alarm is beeping, or it could be something bigger like a fire or medical emergency. It's quite rewarding to see they're happy and relieved to be getting help from somebody.”
Fonterra Research & Development Centre (FRDC)
Our Research & Development Centre in Palmerston North is one of the largest dairy research facilities in the world and has been a pioneer in dairy innovation for an impressive 95 years.
But it is the people who make FRDC truly special. Recently, they have volunteered on-farm to clean up damage left by Cyclone Gabrielle, and planted trees in the local community.
To support our farmer owners in the aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle, nine dedicated volunteers spent the day on Wayne and Janet Smith’s farm outside of Waipukarau. A massive effort from the team saw them clear 1.7km of fence debris, leaving the entire 5-wire fence restored and above ground.
“The farm was heavily affected by the cyclone, with slips and fences completely wiped out. Wayne and Janet expressed immense gratitude for our help, their appreciation and support meant the world to us” said Fonterra Business Analyst Lauren Barnard.
And to protect and regenerate the environment in Palmerston North, a team of 60 planted approximately 1000 trees around the Turitea Pā site in April.
“It a great day to demonstrate our Fonterra values and to contribute to kaitiakitanga (guardship of the land) by planting natives. The whole site came together for this, and we hope to do it again next year” said Fonterra Technical Officer Sydney Collin.
Fonterra Director, Research & Development., Pierre Venter applauded his team for their commitment to giving back.
“I want to personally acknowledge and express my gratitude to all of the volunteers here at FRDC. Thank you for embodying the spirit of unity that defines us here. I would also like to give a special shoutout to those who joined hands to clean up and restore what was lost after Cyclone Gabrielle. You have made a profound difference in the lives of those affected" he said.
Approximately 4,000 people volunteer every week at 1,400 schools across Aotearoa to make KickStart Breakfast happen.
It is a collective effort from whānau, friends, church groups, clubs and societies, local businesses, youth workers and friends of schools.
One of those volunteers is Erin Streeter, who helps run the programme at St Patrick’s School in Invercargill.
“I became part of KickStart Breakfast three years ago when I was asked by the school. I have a lot of history with them, and it helps that I live just across the road,” said Erin.
“42 years ago, I was asked by St Patrick’s if I would fill in for them as a cleaner over the Christmas holiday period. I agreed, and my ‘fill in’ period lasted for 30 years!”
Now in her mid-70’s, Erin has retired, but is still at the school five mornings a week, for KickStart Breakfast.
“Erin really is a treasure. She's like a well-loved nana to all the staff here, as well as the children. We love her to bits” said St Patrick’s School Office Administrator Annette Dunn.
Auckland City Mission
To put good quality nutrition in the hands of those who need it most, Joyce Liao, Rebekah Chainey and Tania Leal Yanez from our Key Accounts team headed over to the Auckland City Mission to pack food boxes.
Thanks to a great team effort, they managed to pack around 100 boxes for families in need.
Fonterra Category Lead – Key Accounts Joyce Liao said it was a privilege to help the Auckland City Mission pack parcels to support the community.
“The feeling of being able to lend a helping hand to my community fills me with an incredible sense of purpose. Knowing that I can make even a small difference in the lives of others brings me satisfaction” she said.
“It's rewarding to be able to help people, it feels like it's good for the soul” added Fonterra Sales Operations Executive – Key Accounts Tania Leal Yanez.
The Auckland City Mission have a wide reach within the community – in 2022 they provided ingredients for 2.37 million meals – an average of 45,500 meals a week.
As they are relatively close to the Fonterra office on Fanshawe street, various teams have supported them in different ways over the years.
The Auckland City Mission are a New Zealand Food Network Food hub, a food charity that stores and re-distributes large volumes of surplus and donated food. In 2020 our Co-op signed up as a foundation donor partner to the New Zealand Food Network.
Skills volunteers for Springboard Trust
Springboard Trust is a not-for-profit organisation working within the education sector. It matches business sector volunteers with school leaders, to facilitate leadership learning and embed impactful educational change for the young people of Aotearoa.
Around six of our employees actively volunteer for Springboard Trust and offer various support including providing coaching and training for school principals.
Fonterra Brands NZ Marketing Director Renee Milkop-Kerr has volunteered for them for five years, acting as a mentor for principals as they go through the Springboard Trust’s Strategic Leadership Programme.
“I was inspired by what they were doing – building the leadership capability of principals to positively impact Kiwi kids. I have been with them for five years, and every year I keep learning and developing my skills” she said.
Fonterra Operational Excellence and Business Outsourcing Manager Rebecca Walsh has been part of the programme for seven years, after being approached by Springboard Trust.
“I saw this as a wonderful opportunity to share the knowledge I had gained from my experience at Fonterra with a talented group of individuals. Additionally, I felt a strong desire to give back to the community that had played a significant role in raising my two daughters,” said Rebecca.
“By sharing the tips and tricks I've learned over the years, I empower others and contribute to a more inclusive and thriving community.”
Springboard Trust Partnerships and Volunteer Lead Rebecca Brown thanked our volunteers on behalf of the organisation.
“We would like to give a shout out to Fonterra for their support over the past 10 years. The impact Fonterra’s people have had in the education sector and in growing our school leaders is phenomenal” she said.