Conservation volunteer programme helps keep Baring Head beautiful

  • Published Date 22 Feb 2021

Since 2018 participants of Conservation Volunteer NZ's Conservation Work Skills (CWS) programme have contributed to a variety of projects that help to make Baring Head a site of natural beauty and historical significance.

Greater Wellington Councillor and Parks Portfolio Leader Prue Lamason says with 33,000 hectares of land to manage, the council is grateful for the many volunteer groups and programmes like this that help to take care of our parks.

"Many of the native trees we see at Baring Head are a direct result of the hard work of CWS crew members. Past and present members have planted around 7000 trees in the park. Young native trees are fragile and prone to getting smothered by weeds, so the group also comes back to do weeding and ensure the plants are thriving.

It's not only the natural environment that benefits. CWS participants helped to restore the historic Baring Head lighthouse complex, a project spearheaded by the Friends of Baring Head. Thanks to their collective mahi, the complex will soon be open to the public, and people will be able to visit and discover the stories of this unique location."

The CWS programme, developed by Conservation Volunteers NZ in partnership with the Ministry for Social Development, helps local jobseekers on a benefit get back into the workforce by equipping them with practical and transferable skills. The 12 week programme consists of two weeks of pre-employment training, followed by 10 weeks of paid employment.

Kiri Ericsson, CWS Team Leader, says that the programme has empowered dozens of Wellingtonians to find paid work since its inception three years ago.

"We've had about 50 people from Kāpiti, Porirua and Lower Hutt through the programme, and so far we've had over 70% of our participants find relevant employment as a direct result of their involvement in CWS,” she says.

But the programme is about more than helping people find work, Kiri says.

"Participants leave the programme feeling connected to their communities, and the land that they worked on. Quite often, they'll continue to help out on the projects they were involved in through CWS long after the programme finishes.

It might sound like a cliché, but it's really inspiring to see people's dream job become a reality. If they believe in themselves and work hard, they can persevere. I think sometimes they surprise themselves," Kiri adds.

Applications for the CWS programme are now open. For more information, visit the Conservation Volunteers NZ website or email

To explore the dozens of groups that operate in Greater Wellington's parks or join one yourself, visit our volunteering page.


Updated March 30, 2022 at 3:05 PM

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