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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 28, No. 2. 1965.


The beginnings of volunteer workers' schemes in New Zealand were in the Volunteer Graduate Scheme adapted from the Australian model in 1957 and in the School Leavers' Scheme which originated in Britain and came to New Zealand in 1961. These two aspects of volunteer work were incorporated into one organisation, Volunteer Service Abroad, in March, 1962.

In its constitution, VSA sets down its object as contributing towards the development of friendship between the peoples of New Zealand and the peoples of southern Asia and the Pacific Islands by recruiting, training, placing and maintaining New Zealanders as volunteer workers to assist such peoples and their Governments in the task of developing their respective countries.

The Governor-General, Sir Bernard Fergusson, who had already shown great personal interest by joining VSA, was invited to become its patron and graciously accepted; he has maintained a close interest in VSA's activities.

The president of VSA is Sir Edmund Hillary who, when in New Zealand, has been busy recruiting members and volunteers, helped by Lady Hillary.

The chairman of the organisation is Professor C. C. Aikman. Dean of the Faculty of Law at Victoria University. The deputy-chairman, Mr. M. J. O'Brien, a Wellington barrister and a former president of the New Zealand University Students' Association, has just returned to New Zealand after placing the school-leaver volunteers for this year and discussions with Asian and Pacific governments about the organisation.

An important difference from its counterpart in the United States, the Peace Corps, is that VSA is not a government organisation but is controlled, and partly financed, by the New Zealand public. Membership consists of adult, junior and corporate members who pay an annual subscription. However, membership is still below the strength the council of VSA hopes to achieve; chiefly because a really effective method of recruiting has not yet been discovered. However, the rate of growth increases steadily.

VSA gains the greatest proportion of its financial support from sponsors, such as Rotary, Jaycees, Young Farmers' Clubs and community sponsorship programmes.