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‘Anniversary of Auckland floods and upcoming Anniversary of Cyclone Gabrielle: The Student Volunteer Army leverages technology to stand up against climate change’

As we commemorate the anniversary of the Auckland Floods and anticipate the upcoming anniversary of Cyclone Gabrielle, the SVA reflects on its decade-long journey and announces a groundbreaking fundraising project to leverage technology in the fight against climate change and to enhance crisis response and community recovery efforts.

Emily Byrne, CEO of the SVA, expressed her pride in the students and volunteers who stepped up during the Auckland Anniversary flood and Cyclone Gabrielle. “I am incredibly proud of the swift and determined response from our students and volunteers. Their resilience and dedication demonstrate the spirit of community service that defines the Student Volunteer Army.”

In the wake of the Auckland Anniversary floods, the Student Volunteer Army (SVA) mobilised more than 1300 dedicated volunteers to provide immediate relief and aid to the affected communities, showcasing their prompt and impactful response.

Cyclone Gabrielle arrived soon after and once its impact was understood, the SVA partnered with Task Force Kiwi and supported expert volunteers to help the community by clearing debris with chainsaws and diggers. Once it was safe to do so, a team of student volunteers travelled to Hawke’s Bay to assist with cleaning the homes of those who had lost everything.

Revolutionising crisis response through technology

The SVA is poised to take crisis response into the future with new spontaneous volunteer coordination technology that has the potential to revolutionize their operations. This fully integrated and adaptable online platform will enable live maps, instant communication through emails and texts, and volunteer segmentation based on experience, skills and location – connecting and mobilising volunteers in real time across the country.

Speaking on the importance of future resilience, Emily emphasised how crucial the SVA’s work is in the face of escalating climate challenges. “Our organisation stands as a beacon of hope, empowering the youth to connect with their community and support their recovery. With technology as our ally, we can strengthen our impact and foster a culture of resilience that will endure for generations,” she said.

Supporting youth mental health and resilience

Recognising the challenges facing youth mental health, the SVA’s enhanced crisis response operations aim to build resilience in young volunteers through online crisis response training and drills. Volunteering provides practical skills, fosters confidence and increases work-readiness, positively impacting mental health and well-being. A young person’s involvement during a crisis builds their sense of responsibility to the community, increasing their motivation to care for the world around them.


JAN 2024

Building resilient communities through connection

Loneliness is a significant issue in New Zealand, particularly among vulnerable groups. The SVA aims to foster community connection, equipping communities with tools, resources and skills to better prepare for emergencies and work together effectively in a crisis.

Together, we are stronger and we can achieve anything.

OUR STORY: Born out of crisis, evolving for the future

The Student Volunteer Army emerged in the aftermath of the 2010 Christchurch earthquake, and over the past decade, it has grown into a force of more than 40,000 registered volunteers, leading second-wave crisis responses to help communities recover after disasters. Through volunteer programmes spanning primary, secondary and tertiary education levels, the SVA empowers young people across Aotearoa, fostering a resilient volunteering culture that spans generations and creates future leaders who are ready to step into action in a crisis for their community.

During the past year the SVA’s work has been supported by its crisis response partner Hummingbird Coffee.


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