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Why VSA?

Each volunteer experience is different. The work, location, colleagues and context are varied and vast, and no two volunteer experiences are the same.

In saying that, you will find volunteers speaking of the life-changing experience of living and volunteering overseas. They speak of how the challenge has positively impacted other aspects of their life and returning with a different perspective has given them personal growth.

For some, it has helped with their career, while others acknowledge the joy they feel from contributing to the well-being of communities and making life-long friends.

Since 1962 VSA has had long-lasting and trusted relationships with international partners. We work closely to understand their unique goals and objectives and collaborate to achieve sustained and meaningful change. 

We are proud to authentically deliver a locally-led approach to international volunteering with offices located in Dili (Timor-Leste), New Britain (Papua New Guinea), Buka and Arawa (Bougainville), Honiara (Solomon Islands), Santo (Vanuatu), Apia (Samoa), and Avarua (Cook Islands).

Our partners include regional and central government agencies, local and national NGOs, education and health organisations, schools, colleges, and health clinics. We also work with New Zealand and regional partners such as UNICEF, UN Women and the Pacific Community (SPC).

Each volunteer role aligns with our SDG’s to reach our vision of a world with thriving communities.

The relationships and experiences our volunteers gain from their time on assignment are truly immeasurable and cherished for a lifetime.

Am I Eligible?

We recruit skilled volunteers from all walks of life; however, applications can only be considered if the individual meets the following criteria:

  • You must be a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident with the right to reside and work permanently in NZ 

  • Have the necessary skills and experience to carry out the professional goals of the assignment 

  • VSA is not able to recruit families with accompanying dependent children

  • An age limit exists of 70 years for assignments in Samoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, Tonga and Vanuatu and 65 years for assignments in Papua New Guinea, Bougainville, Timor-Leste and Solomon Islands.

As the requirements state for volunteers to have at least a couple of years of work experience and relevant qualifications mean it is unusual to send anyone under the age of 25 on an assignment.

However, Students aged 30 and under who are in their final year at university may be eligible to apply for VSA’s UniVol programme. 

All potential volunteers are asked to undergo a full pre-assignment medical and clearance process before they are placed.

What support will I receive?

VSA covers flights, accommodation, insurance, and a living allowance that is adequate to support a modest lifestyle covering food, local travel, and other minor costs.

As well as working closely with the local partner organisation that will alow for you to build trusting relationships, we also have staff in-country across the Pacific and a VSA Programme Manager is assigned to each location to ensure you are fully supported during your time on assignment.

What skills do I need?

All assignments focus on sharing skills and resources, so key relationship-building, interest in learning Pacific culture, and mentoring are essential when volunteering to make a lasting impact long after a volunteer returns to New Zealand.

We prioritise long-term development. Most assignments are for one or two years but we also have short-term assignments from six weeks to one year.

Our recruitment team work hard to carefully select candidates that match the traits listed on our personal attributes.

VSA works closely with partner organisations to identify the individual skillset requirements of each assignment. Demand for skills varies, so check out our volunteer opportunities to match your experience to a current volunteer assignment.

Who will I volunteer with?

Volunteers work with a local partner organisation that VSA has assisted to identify the specifications for each assignment. The partner organisation will be listed in the descriptions of each role. All current opportunities are listed on our volunteer page.

Our partners include regional and central government agencies, local and national NGOs, education and health organisations, schools, colleges, and health clinics. We also work with New Zealand and regional partners such as UNICEF, UN Women and the Pacific Community (SPC).

Who can I bring?

VSA sends couples on assignment together, however unfortunately we are unable to accommodate families in our programme. 

For our long-term assignments we regularly place couples overseas, but for assignments of less than six months, this is not possible.

With long-term assignments, the accompanying partner will often find voluntary work in the local community. Occasionally assignments may be available for both partners in the same location. Accompanying partners must also complete an application form and go through VSA’s selection and briefing process.

Like volunteers, accompanying partners must either have NZ permanent residence or NZ citizenship. VSA will pay the accompanying partner’s flights, accommodation, and other relevant expenses, and they will receive a living allowance of two-thirds of that of the volunteer.


Will I need to speak the local language?

VSA provides basic language tuition during the in-country orientation programme, and we strongly encourage all volunteers to learn the local language. Even the most basic language skills can help enrich your cross-cultural experience and reduce the frustration of being an outsider.

In some cases, you will not be able to carry out your assignment without a good grasp of the local language.

Safety overseas?

While some of the countries VSA works in experience periods of political instability and can be vulnerable to natural disasters, we host our volunteers for a week prior to their departure to give a thorough briefing on keeping safe and appropriate protocol while on assignment.

Our field staff are either in-country with volunteers or close by, and always alert to any risks working with other agencies, including MFAT, to monitor any potentially escalated situations, and advise volunteers accordingly. Volunteers always have disaster preparedness plans, adequate emergency supplies, and access to VSA’s resources in the event of an emergency.

Do you have programmes for younger and less experienced volunteers?

Yes, VSA’s UniVol programme; a partnership between VSA and Auckland, Massey, Otago and Victoria Universities.

To be eligible for UniVol you must be:

  • a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident

  • aged 30 years or under on July 31 2021

  • enrolled in your final year of university studies (bachelor degree or higher) or have graduated in the last 12 months

Please Note: 

UniVols work in a variety of roles which include youth work, marketing and communications, administration, IT and computer training, hospitality and tourism, sports development, vet assistance, and monitoring and evaluation. Due to the wide range of assignments available on the UniVol Programme, VSA will consider applications from different academic disciplines and backgrounds.