Everyone volunteering at the Animal Sanctuary in Matakana has different skills, but the one thing they have in common is a love of animals.
Gaby Bailey started volunteering three years ago when she found a sick duckling in a drain outside New World in Warkworth. She took it to the sanctuary and helped nurse it back to health.
“He grew up to be a big, white, beautiful duck” she says.
Since then she has learnt how to raise baby birds, crop feed chickens and help with sick animals. The 17-year-old is now considering training as a vet.
Gaby says there is a lot of dirty work, but helping to save and rehome animals is worth it. “Picking up poo is just part of the job.”
Ronni Blaom says she has learned valuable life lessons after seeing the good and bad way humans treat animals.
“Sometimes it’s hard when they are too far gone. But you learn to always try. Watching a bird learn to walk and fly and trust is an amazingly rewarding thing.”
Sue Hieatt travels 50 minutes every week to get to the sanctuary from her Kaukapakapa home. She started six years ago when she moved to part-time work. She wanted to do volunteer work for animals and contacted the sanctuary. She didn’t want to do public work at the zoo or SPCA.
“I was under no illusions that there would be poo involved, but it’s not exactly an onerous job,” Sue says.
She particularly likes the birds and the parrots, and will help feed, clean and hold them. She says the work is relaxing and she never feels under any pressure.
Sue has a lifestyle block and gets tips from the sanctuary for her own sheep and chickens.
Animal Sanctuary owner Shawn Bishop says Sue volunteers every week, even when the weather is bad.
She says the sanctuary would not exist without the volunteers. When they started the sanctuary on their 32-acre site 14 years ago they purposely built the house to have room for residential volunteers, primarily WWOOF volunteers, who stay for a few weeks to a few months.
“It’s been part of the strategy from the very beginning so they are an integral part of the sanctuary.”
She says they tailor the jobs to the volunteer’s skills.
They have even had people turn up just to help with the gardens.
They currently have about 100 animals. Shawn says about half of her job is rehoming them. In addition to volunteers, other people help by donating or taking a rescue animal into their home.
Can you help?
The Matakana Animal Sanctuary is always looking for regular volunteers with a variety of skills. At present they need a handy person to help repair chicken coop roofs and other storm damage. They are looking for a web designer to help them with a project to generate income for the animals, and a graphic designer to help with marketing and flyers.