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Pip Pip Hooray

Volunteers are like cheese scones, Aotearoa New Zealand wouldn’t be the same without them.

Volunteers are the backbone of New Zealand.

Volunteers roughly contribute 159 million hours of formal volunteer labour each year. The current estimated value of volunteer work is approximately $4 billion per annum, with a fifth (21.5%) of New Zealanders contributing to this.

So, when we say that volunteers are like cheese scones because New Zealand wouldn’t be the same without them, we mean it.

This week is National Volunteer Week, and we’d like to take this opportunity to introduce you to one of our incredible volunteers at Merge Café, Pip.

Pip first heard about Merge Café while working at the University of Auckland more than a decade ago.

Back then, the university held a fundraiser and one of the initiatives was to provide backpacks with personal care items for customers of the café. Pip helped make up the packs and dropped them off to the café.

During the Covid lockdown period, Pip decided she needed a new perspective on life. She emailed Merge to see if they needed help. From here, she joined the Merge Café whānau as a volunteer in February 2021.

Before becoming a volunteer, Pip hadn’t had a lot of interaction with people on the margins besides passing people living on the street.

“When I was working at the university, you were mixing with the same kind of people. I probably did come with ideas about how people end up on the street through alcoholism and mental health issues and bad luck.”

When joining Merge, she fell in love with the café and the people in it.

“People are always laughing, and people remember my name even though I’m only here once a fortnight” - Pip.

Te Huia

“I volunteer at Lifewise because they helped me get back on my feet. I wouldn’t be here without them”


“Everybody, regardless of their function, is worth something because they exist”


“I enjoy the camaraderie, the laughter, making things, discussing ideas, and giving back. Merge is a great place to volunteer”

There are times when Pip doesn’t feel like coming in but does it anyway.

“After the cyclone (Gabrielle) I spent all day in the garden clearing up the mess and I was so stiff afterwards. I woke up and thought, oh I don’t feel like standing all day at the café. And yet I come in and everyone is pleased to see you.”

“There are things to do and it’s great. It’s something I enjoy doing.”

Giving her time to Merge Café not only gives Pip joy, but it has helped fuel her passion to start a business.

“I was talking to Umender (Head Chef at Merge) about these fruit syrups I make, and he put me in touch with the Kitchen Project.”

Pip says, “I think it’s exciting having an idea and taking it as far as you can.”

Pip launched Little Pips this year, and even donates a portion of her profits to Merge Café.

Donate to Merge Café

Donate to Merge or shout someone in need 5 meals for $25. 

Peer Support

Merge Café is a community hub. Learn how it operates as a place where peers support their peers.

Learn more

Keen to volunteer at Merge? Just stop by the café and ask for Manu.

Merge Café
Little Pips

Feeling fruity and want to support local, check out Pips, Little Pips delicious fruit syrups.

Little Pips

Tūao manaaki whanaungatanga e manawaroa ai

Volunteering of care, of nurturing growth and enduring relationships.

Empowering volunteers to enrich Aotearoa New Zealand.

Learn more about National Volunteer Week