Volunteers go the nautical mile

Last Updated : 13 Apr 2016
Volunteers go the nautical mile
Left to right: Michelle Piper Panuku Development Auckland Assistant Kiosk Manager and cruise ship meet and greet volunteers Barry Spence, Denice Chambers and Heather Howarth.

A group of dedicated volunteers have been going the extra mile for passengers arriving in Auckland on cruise ships this season, ensuring they receive a warm welcome from the city.

Panuku Development Auckland Kiosk Manager, Karen Jensen, loves her job and admires the work of volunteers.

“A lot of our volunteers are well travelled, with a vast array of knowledge at their disposal,” she says.

A positive experience for all

The stories and memories shared with visitors is the driving factor for many. Ex-head proof setter of the New Zealand Herald, David Shirreffs, now works as a volunteer in his spare time.

“It helps me as a person to build my social skills and engagement. It’s a self-improvement thing,” he says.

Mr Shirreffs has worked as a volunteer at various workplaces such as the Auckland Airport and as a cruise ship greeter. He believes that you have to be positive and truly love Auckland to excel at volunteer work.

Karen Jensen’s smile is infectious as she comments on the type of tourists she encounters. “Some visitors are looking for the nearest toilet, others want to know where to grab a nice lunch, and then there are those with adventure in their veins. Every day is different.”

A team of problem solvers

There is an apparent culture among the kiosk family. The team is always problem solving, more often than not, with great outcomes. The volunteer team based at Queens Wharf, who meet and greet cruise ship passengers at both Queens and Princes Wharves, will greet approximately 105 cruise ships this season between October 2015 and August 2016. The following stories demonstrate the level of care volunteers have for their Auckland visitors.

The Paihia dash

A woman from the United States arrived into Auckland on the Silver Whisper Cruise ship on Waitangi Day. She urgently needed eye treatment and managed to get an emergency appointment on the North Shore, but this meant she would miss the ship as it left from Auckland to go to Paihia.

She then discovered there was no public transport or rental cars available to try and meet the ship at Paihia the following day.

Fortunately, Kiosk Manager Karen Jensen found a family member willing to drive the woman three hours to Paihia after her treatment, who then turned around and drove back to Auckland. Mrs Jensen says, “They just needed a bit of TLC and their problem solved with the Kiwi ‘can do’ attitude”.

Cyclone of problems

Another couple was having a rough start to their trip of a life time holiday, which started with their baggage being stolen along with cash, jewellery and passports at Los Angeles Airport, causing them to miss their cruise ship departing from Melbourne. 

They managed to get to Auckland where they were hoping to join the cruise, only to find out when they approached the kiosk that the cruise had changed route due to cyclone warnings and would not be coming into Auckland for another week.

The kiosk team contacted the cruise line multiple times before they finally found out that the couple could link in Dunedin. The couple were able to sort out a flight to Dunedin from Auckland. Lynn Unthank, Kiosk team member, received a big hug from the couple.

The lovely people who volunteer for Panuku Development Auckland continue to do great work for the city of Auckland. The warm, sincere greetings are one of the main reasons seafaring visitors remember Auckland.

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