Meet the volunteers

Page - January 21, 2010
Find out what inspires people to volunteer for Greenpeace and the areas they are involved with.

Harold Phillips: Activist and mail stuffer

Harold Phillips, 76, first became involved with Greenpeace as a volunteer in 1971, driven by his passion for our anti-whaling campaign.   Since then he has taken a range of actions ranging from mail stuffing to direct action.

Last year Harold took part in a Greenpeace basics actions training, which meant staying onsite in the Greenpeace warehouse for three days with 30 other budding activists, abseiling off a 25m high cliff and taking part in a half-day actions role play.   He says that the training has been the best part so far of his involvement with Greenpeace: "I particularly liked the abseiling-I would like to take part in an action, because it's exciting and will always be for a cause I can relate to".

Since the basic actions training Harold has lead the charge with other volunteer activists who blockaded the Fonterra head quarters.

He attended the protest because he doesn't like the path Fonterra has taken said, "I feel compelled to protest. Fonterra's dairy farming nowadays needs a lot of fertiliser, supplementary feed like palm kernel grown on the ashes of far away rainforests. It's farming but not how it used to be. It's a disgrace."

Jessie Dennis: Volunteer networker, activist and political intern

Wellington political science student, Jessie Dennis, has not just one, but three volunteer roles within Greenpeace.

She's been invaluable as a volunteer intern, working with our political advisor Geoff Keey. She took the role on after bumping into Geoff at a Greenpeace public campaign activity in Wellington.   "My own views are in line with Greenpeace's policies and ideas, and I got sick of just talking about the issues and wanted to take action," says Jessie.

Her interest in politics, and her passion for the environment, made her the ideal person for the internship, which has involved meeting with numerous politicians, academics and NGO representatives.

Jessie has also put her skills to use as a member of Greenpeace's boat team.   She's completed boat training, and has participated in two recent Greenpeace actions - protesting a shipment of imported palm-based animal feed in Tauranga, and blockading a destructive fishing trawler in Auckland.

"Greenpeace is great for people who haven't been active before," Jessie says. "They really welcome anyone who wants to help."

Last but not least, Jessie has also played a critical role in coordinating Sign On campaign activities in Wellington.   In talking with members of the public, she found that, while there was a lot of support for the campaign, many people felt alienated from the political system and doubted they could have an impact.

 "That's the most important thing to communicate," says Jessie, "that we can make a difference, because public opinion can and does influence politicians".

Roshahn Smith: Oceans volunteer

Roshahn Smith

Sadfish companion and Greenpeace volunteer.

Roshahn Smith played a key role in Greenpeace's campaign to promote sustainable seafood policies in supermarkets. In 2009, she travelled the length of New Zealand with other Greenpeace volunteers, talking to thousands of Kiwis about our Red Fish Guide and using their power as consumers to influence seafood retailers.

She's also talked directly with many supermarket managers,and helped send a strong message about protecting our marine environment. "I have a sense of pride, honour and respect for this beautiful country, and this is something I want to share, experience and pass on to my children," says Roshahn.

Kate Paris: Actions volunteer

Kate Paris’ involvement with Greenpeace started when she dropped by the office in 2007. She started volunteering regularly and soon became involved with our actions team. Kate fondly remembers donning a pair of orange Greenpeace overalls for the first time: “I was completely elated, I had to pinch myself... direct action is important.

It shakes people out of their denial when you are prepared to put your freedom on the line to make a statement.”  Kate has participated in a number of Greenpeace actions – from tree.

Planting on a large scale dairy conversion to blockading a destructive fishing trawler from leaving port. Her most recent action was in Tauranga, blocking a shipment of imported palm kernel animal feed from Indonesia which was intended for Fonterra dairy farms.

Greenpeace activists usually start out by volunteering regularly, before moving on to actions-related training so they can get involved in direct action.

Nick Tapp: Film and video volunteer

Nick Tapp

Nick Tapp volunteer videographer.

Nick Tapp works in our communications department as a film and video editor, shooting videos, editing with Final Cut Pro to create short video clips, exporting productions for web use, and logging footage. Nick first started at Greenpeace when the Esperanza came into port in Auckland in 2007. “They showed the Wake Up video, and that convinced me to take action, it was really inspiring so I enquired about being a volunteer.”

Since then Nick has been filming Greenpeace marches, direct communications and actions. The best thing he has done was filming Greenpeace activists shutting down a mine pit at the Southland ‘New Vale’ lignite coalmine. The dirty lignite coal is used by Fonterra at its Edendale dairy factory to mainly turn milk into milk powder. Nick was the camera person on the ground, and there was another camera person in the helicopter. The footage reel was sent to media networks afterwards and played on both major television channels.

“The Southland coal action was really exciting and it was cool to go down with a group of really passionate people that wanted to take action.” Nick has now reached a level of expertise where he is being employed on various contract roles within the communications team. He will continue to volunteer for Greenpeace because he enjoys “working for an organisation of a substantial size that has the capacity, equipment, reputation and international breadth to do a lot more than a smaller organisation”.