Lending a hand leads to new friendships

Victoria University student Emma Parker has forged new friendships while also doing her bit for the environment

Emma Parker volunteering with friend and dog

Before beginning her studies in ecology, biodiversity and environmental studies at university, Emma decided to volunteer in the conservation space in the summer of 2020.

“It just made sense to do something practical on top of learning [studies], so I typed conservation into Google and it came up with Conservation Volunteers New Zealand (CVNZ).”

The Wellington arm of CVNZ takes its cohort of volunteers to beaches, parks, reserves and forest areas all over the Wellington region on weekdays and weekends to plant native trees, eradicate weeds and restore dunes.

Emma Parker with a group of friends

Since Emma joined the weekday volunteer efforts more than a year ago, she’s planted dozens of natives, weeded and helped with dune restoration all over the Wellington region.

Best of all, she has made new friends in twin sisters Hayley and Jemma.

“I met Jemma when I first started volunteering and we discovered we were about to start the same degree at uni.

“We’ve since become good friends, we attend mostly the same classes at uni, and it’s great hanging out together when we’re volunteering.”

As Jemma puts it: “If it wasn’t for Conservation Volunteers, I wouldn’t have been able to meet Emma who helped me overcome the daunting experience of my first year at university”.

Alongside hanging out with friends and likeminded people out in the field, having suffered from a back injury in the past, Emma likes the fact she can volunteer for as little or as long as she likes, and loves being able to take her dog Baxter with her, depending on the location.

“It’s really nice to be a part of a community of likeminded people, it’s really uplifting, and the work gives you a sense of purpose.

I grew up in Wellington, so it feels really nice to be making Wellington a better place environmentally

Emma Parker

“You can see the difference you’re making as you go – when you pull out the weeds you can see the little natives now have space to grow, or when you’re planting you stand back and look at all the natives you’ve planted after a few hours, it’s really satisfying.”

This is Emma’s first stint volunteering and she says it’s the best thing she’s ever done.

“You’re outdoors in nature, you meet lots of likeminded people, you’re helping the environment and giving back to the community as well,” she says.

“I grew up in Wellington, so it feels really nice to be making Wellington a better place environmentally.”

Get involved

Learn how to get involved with conservation volunteering events in the Wellington region

Get involved