Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 6. 4th April 1973
It is said that the V.S.A. scheme is voluntary and independent of the Government's foreign and educational aid. This sounds great. However the recipients of the scheme accept it as New Zealand aid, implying that it is government sponsored, and as such view it with disappointment as it is certainty a very cheap form of aid for any country to offer. Consequently the V.S.A. (and the Peace Corps especially) are now commonly referred to as "Ai Afu" — a term which generally means "parasites". This indicates the unpopular and tarnished image V.S.A. has in the Pacific Islands at present.
The arrogance of many volunteers does not end when their term expires. Back in New Zealand, the many Pacific Island people now residing here are finding it increasingly disturbing to discover that some of these volunteers have unofficially declared themselves authorities on Samoa, Fiji, Tonga etc, while others have assumed the right to speak for various island groups. Furthermore they even see fit to make strong and biased criticisms of the Government and the people of the islands who had shown so much tolerance for the attitude displayed by the volunteers.
A prime example of this was what happened in 1970. A research officer of the organisation Peter Gapes went to Samoa for a week and on his return wrote an article on Samoa in the 'Listener'. The article was not only filled with a lot of factual errors but just about every Samoan word therein was misspelt.
The Volunteer Service Abroad Organisation must understand that the volunteers they send out are only providing a short term solution to long term needs. The best way of helping to eradicate these long term problems would be to follow the same sort of scheme the Government is carrying out i.e. bring them out here and give them the necessary training.