21 Sep 2019

Student Volunteer Army heads to West Coast to give it a spruce-up

11:43 am on 21 September 2019

Ninety-one Christchurch university students are setting out to give the West Coast a spruce-up this weekend.

Volunteers pick up rubbish where a disused Fox River landfill spilled litter on the West Coast.

Volunteers pick up rubbish where a disused Fox River landfill spilled litter on the West Coast earlier this year. Photo: RNZ / Katie Todd

Some of the students, from the Student Volunteer Army (SVA), are planting flax to strengthen the Fox riverbank, six months after flooding tore it up and split open an old landfill.

Others are cleaning beaches, repairing walking tracks, weeding, cleaning a community centre and planting trees in locations from Cape Foulwind to Punakaiki.

It's the second volunteering camp of the year for the SVA, and president Sati Ravichandiren hoped it would create ties between students and the communities they were volunteering in.

He said it wasn't often that so many students could dig into simple volunteering tasks for three or four hours at a time.

"But also it's just a fun weekend," he said.

"It's probably my favourite event on the SVA calendar where you just get to go, get to know a different part of the South Island ... get to have a lot of fun, get to know each other."

Vice-president Tim Greene said camps were a chance for the SVA members to contribute in a meaningful way to communities outside of their own - while seeing beautiful parts of New Zealand they otherwise may not have the chance to visit.

The students will be staying at the University of Canterbury Westport Field Station and YHA Westport, and will have time to explore West Coast attractions tomorrow before a bonfire on the beach.

It's the first time an SVA camp has been held on the West Coast after the initiative was introduced in 2016.

There are now more than 3000 members of the SVA, which formed after the 2010 Canterbury earthquake.

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