Kaitūao are the backbone of our sport and they play a vital role in club administration, club events, coaching, fundraising, and everything else in between. The following information is an outline of some key considerations for volunteer management.

Kaitūao - Volunteers

A volunteer is someone who donates their time to the club without expectation of payment. Volunteers come from all age groups, educational backgrounds, income levels, genders, and types of employment. At Waka Ama NZ we call our volunteers kaitūao and we could not do what we do without them. Our volunteers are amazing and we ensure that all of our volunteers are contributing to our event and our sport in a positive way. It is very important that you value, respect and empower your volunteers.

Working with Kaitūao

Different things motivate volunteers and they may require different treatment. That’s why it’s a good idea for clubs to have a way of managing their volunteers. Good volunteer management is essential to ensuring a positive relationship between your club and your volunteers, and also to help with the smooth running of your club, events and day to day activities.

It is important that volunteers feel valued and part of the club – small things such as a free volunteer t-shirt, recognition of roles and responsibility, meals and refreshments provided and acknowledgment before and after events are just some of the ways to appreciate your volunteers.

Kaitūao Management

1. Appoint a Kaitūao Coordinator

Role and responsibilities:
  • Liaise with other members of your club
  • Determine where volunteers are needed
  • Write task/job descriptions
  • Assign specific jobs to volunteers
  • Prepare info for each volunteer area
  • Regularly communicate with volunteers (maintain contact detail database)
  • Develop a volunteer succession plan
  • Organise reference checks were applicable

2. Identify Kaitūao Requirements

The starting point for your Kaitūao Coordinator should be to identify the volunteer requirements for your club.
  • How many volunteers are needed?
  • To do what? When? For how long?
  • What sort of people do we want in these roles?
  • What authority will each type of volunteer have?
  • Who will each type of volunteer report to?
  • What will be done so new volunteers feel welcome and fit in?
  • What support is available for new volunteers?
  • Is it possible for experienced volunteers to work with new volunteers?

3. Recruitment

If a volunteer feels like they’re getting something back from their experience, they’re more likely to stay with your club and offer their services again in future. Highlight the benefits of volunteering, such as gaining new skills, making friends, having fun and helping others succeed.

Things you can do to promote your volunteer offer:
  • On your website, Facebook, noticeboards, include information about what’s involved in volunteering for your club and the benefits
  • Engage with your community and whānau - they’re often keen for experience and are enthusiastic
  • Organise a “bring a friend” day where current volunteers bring along a potential recruit
  • Attend local community events and expos
  • Ask people to volunteer - It might sound simple, but studies have shown that simply asking people to volunteer is a very effective way of recruiting. 
  • Word of mouth is still the cheapest and best way of finding the people you want. Don’t be scared to ask people – often people love to be asked for help and are flattered when you do so.

4. Training and Support

Have the Kaitūao Coordinator (or appropriate person) welcome the volunteer to your club and provide an introduction so they feel like they belong as quickly as possible.
Tip - a welcome letter and welcome pack including items like the Code of Conduct, contact lists, role description and information about your club, is a great way to make your new volunteers feel like they’re part of the team.

5. Reward and Recognition

All volunteers should have their efforts formally recognised at least once a year, including committee members.
This could include:
  • Awards/prizes
  • A thank you card
  • Christmas cards
  • Vouchers
  • A function or special event
Giving Volunteers a voice
Volunteers are a valuable source of information about the community at large. It’s important that volunteers feel they are heard and that their perspectives and ideas are given due consideration. Use surveys, meetings, and workshops to ask volunteers for their views and then let them know how you’re going to integrate their views into your planning. If you choose not to use a suggestion it’s important to explain why.

5. Review and Evaluation

Every 6 - 12 months review and evaluate your club's relationship with your kaitūao and how many you have. Getting feedback from the volunteers themselves is a great way to analyse this relationship, also involving the kaitūao coordinator at regular meetings to keep everyone in the loop.


Check out the following links for more information on volunteers:

Volunteering NZ: Resources
Sport NZ: Volunteers

Check out the Aktive Volunteer Management Toolkit: