In the latest exhibition at the NZ Academy of Fine Arts gallery on Queens Wharf visiting artist Donna... Read More
Student Volunteer Army
RSA National Media Release
The Governor-General of New Zealand, Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae, will present the entire Student Volunteer Army with the RSA Anzac of the Year Award this evening in recognition of its considerable contribution to the Canterbury community following the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes.
The presentation, marking the first time the honour has been given to non-military personnel and to a group, will take place at the rebuilt Undercroft building on the University of Canterbury campus with the entire SVA invited to attend.
Sir Jerry Mateparae said the actions, initiative and spirit of the Student Volunteer Army exemplified the Anzac values of courage, comradeship, commitment and compassion.
“The young men and women who went out and delivered exceptional support did so in the true spirit of the original Anzacs,” he said.
“The Student Volunteer Army’s work shows that the values of the ANZACs are not relics of a bygone era. They are as important to young people of today as they were to the young people—the ANZACs—that landed at Gallipoli 97 years ago,” Sir Jerry Mateparae said.
Sam Johnson, Andrew Chalmers, and all ten members of the SVA committee will receive the award on behalf of the wider Student Volunteer Army, many of whom will be at the presentation ceremony.
Also in attendance to congratulate the SVA will be RSA National Vice-President BJ Clark, RSA Chief Executive Dr Stephen Clarke, University of Canterbury Chancellor Dr John Wood, University of Canterbury Vice-Chancellor Dr Rod Carr and UCSA President Erin Jackson.
Speaking from Gallipoli, RSA National President Don McIver congratulated the Student Volunteer Army, many of whom are the same age as the ANZAC soldiers who fought alongside each other at Anzac Cove 97 years ago.
“We are set to travel with a number of young people over to the cove, and among them may be one or two of the 9,000 recipients of this award,” said Mr McIver.
“I wish to congratulate them all on their contribution – like those who went before them; they have made a nation proud.”
In an interesting turn of events, the Anzac of the Year trophy remained undamaged despite enduring both earthquakes while at the home of inaugural recipient, the late Lieutenant Colonel John Masters ONZM MC JP.
The award was established in 2010 to recognise the spirit of Anzac evident in New Zealanders today, specifically comradeship, compassion, courage and commitment, and is awarded for an act or significant service to the community by outstanding New Zealanders.
Following the 7.1 magnitude earthquake that devastated Christchurch in September 2010, University of Canterbury student Sam Johnson established a Facebook page where students could find information about how to volunteer. The SVA was formed and in the two weeks following provided much needed support to over 2,500 volunteers and helped clear over 65,000 tonnes of liquefaction.
The army was deployed again following the 6.3 magnitude earthquake in February 2011, this time dispatching 9,000 volunteers who carried out 75,000 hours of work, working with contractors and others to clear over 360,000 tonnes of liquefaction and provided meals, clean water and guidance to residents in need.
The SVA also supplied and managed operations for a number of organisations including Government departments, Civil Defence and Christchurch City Council, delivering chemical toilets and information pamphlets, laying sandbags, staffing data entry and manning call centres.
Nominations for the award were made by the New Zealand public with the final recipients decided by a panel including:
- His Excellency Lieutenant General The Right Honourable Sir Jerry Mateparae GNZM QSO Governor-General of New Zealand (Chairman)
- Lieutenant General (Rtd) Don McIver CMG OBE, National President Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Association
- Lieutenant General Rhys Jones, Chief of Defence Force
- Sir Brian Lochore ONZ KNZM OBE