Thursday 16 June 2022

Volunteering at Auckland City Mission 

Every year, around 2000 people volunteer for Auckland City Mission – Te Tāpui Atawhai giving 20,000 hours of their time to help in services such as the Mission’s Distribution Centre, Food Security, Haeata community dining room, Op Shops and at fundraising events.  

The UN estimates that worldwide, 15 percent of working-age people (15 or older) volunteer every month, and 6.5 percent of working-age people worldwide volunteer through a formal organisation like Auckland City Mission.  

In recognition of National Volunteer Week 2022, we asked a few of the Mission’s most committed volunteers to tell us why volunteering is an important part of their lives.  


Marlise: Front of House volunteer at HomeGround 

Anyone who walks through HomeGround’s front door gets a warm welcome from Auckland City Mission’s Front of House team. Two mornings a week, volunteer Marlise is at the Hobson Street entrance to lend a hand on the Mission’s busiest days.  

A lot of people are coming for breakfast at Haeata, and then there are some who don’t really know what they need, or how to ask for it. You try and be a friendly face. You get to know who’s new and who is a regular. Every day is different, and you never quite know what to expect,” Marlise says. 

Marlise is a former kindergarten teacher who is now retired, and has volunteered for other organisations in Auckland, as well as on hospital ships overseas. She began volunteering with the Mission in 2019. In addition to her work with Front of House, Marlise helps to process applications from new volunteers. She has also volunteered for the Mission at Christmas, helping to cook breakfast at James Liston Hostel and distributing presents to families at Nandos.  

Working at Front of House requires resilience and training. Sometimes tempers can flare, but Marlise knows not to take any harsh words personally.  

“If people are dealing with alcohol, drug or mental health issues, they just don’t have the coping mechanisms, and so it doesn’t take much for people to get upset. They just need someone to love them and that’s our job – it has to be unconditional love.” 


Susan: Haeata community dining room volunteer  

Susan signed up to volunteer with Auckland City Mission – Te Tāpui Atawhai after the lockdowns started.  

“My background is in nursing. After raising my family, I started a new phase of my life and went back to university. I had just finished my degree in Sociology and Social Sciences in Public Health – with the intention to work in prisons to reduce recidivism – when COVID happened. I could see that the lockdowns would bring a high level of need, and so volunteering with the Mission was a way that I could quickly slip into a role where I could help.” 

Susan volunteers in the kitchen at Haeata, the Mission’s community dining room, two mornings per week.  

“I really enjoy it. We serve food, help with dishes and whatever needs doing. You meet people from all walks of life – not just the people coming in for a meal, but also the fellow volunteers.  

“I notice the Mission’s client base increasing. We seem to be cooking and serving more and more food. I think things have reached a new level because of COVID, the price of food, the cost of housing, and welfare not going up to meet inflation. I have volunteered at Distribution and Food Security too. It was the same there – there were new faces coming in for food parcels, because things have gotten harder and people can’t keep up with expenses. 

“I recognise the privileged position I am in and volunteering at Haeata affords me an opportunity to help support a diverse community and be purposeful.” 


Pat: Distribution Centre volunteer 

Pat volunteers one morning a week at the Mission’s Distribution Centre in Grafton, sorting donated clothing for the Mission’s four Op Shops.

“I’m interested in clothing and sewing, so it was a good fit for me. I prefer to be behind the scenes, and I really like the variety: you might be sorting clothes, steaming, hanging, or ticketing, depending on what needs to be done that day.

“The ideal volunteers are people who can commit, are reliable and can also be a bit flexible. I really recommend it if you’ve got some spare time. It’s such a rewarding thing to do.”

Pat has even convinced her 21-year-old son and her husband to volunteer for the Mission on occasion.

“My husband is a chef, and we helped the Mission at Christmas with the meal they did at Freemans Bay a couple of years ago. He got me up early on Christmas Day to make sure everything was well organised at Haeata. The day went really well, and we so enjoyed doing it.”

Pat works part-time for a hotel, and her next project is to recycle high quality linen and other items that the hotel no longer needs by donating them to Auckland City Mission.

“I see so many wins in what the Distribution and Retail team do. The Op Shops provide low-cost items for low-income families. The money helps the Mission continue its work, and by recycling linen, household items and clothing that are still in very good condition, we are keeping things out of landfill for longer. The wins are what motivate me to keep on volunteering.”


Mike: Food Security volunteer  

Mike began volunteering with the Mission’s Food Security team in Boston Road, Mt Eden, around 18 months ago.  

“I had worked overseas for 30 years but I’m an Aucklander and I knew about the Mission. I cycle around the city a lot and was aware there was a need for help. 

“The Boston Road team are a really lovely bunch who are good to work with. There’s a good culture where everyone mucks in and does what’s needed. Because I’m retired, I’m pretty flexible and so I volunteer a couple of days of week, and I try to pick the days where they’re short of volunteers. I usually work in the warehouse, packing the fresh produce for the food parcels. There’s some lifting and moving around involved, which I like because it’s a bit of exercise. 

“I also volunteered at Eden Park last Christmas. It’s a huge exercise where we sort the presents and food for the families who have registered to collect them. You get to meet a really diverse range of people on the day. I really enjoyed it.” 

Mike has also helped the Mission’s Fundraising and Reputation team by volunteering at the Food Show. He fundraised for the Mission by running the half-Marathon last year too.  


How to become a volunteer

Auckland City Mission runs an online system for its volunteers, where individual volunteers log in and select the shifts that suit them. Corporate groups are also very welcome.

To find out more or to register your interest in volunteering, go to or phone 09 303 9200.