Otago Polytechnic automotive engineering student Issac
Sonntag (18) works on an oil change, with the help of tutor
Tony Obbeek, as part of the polytechnic's "scarfie army"
initiative. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Otago Polytechnic has drawn inspiration from the success
of Christchurch's "student volunteer army", launching a pilot
"scarfie army" initiative that it hopes will help ingrain
volunteering in Dunedin's student culture.
The first project of the "scarfie army" pilot began yesterday
with Otago Polytechnic automotive engineering students
servicing vehicles for Dunedin community organisations free
Otago Polytechnic launched the initiative with Social
Innovation co-founder Louis Brown, who was the head organiser
of Christchurch's "student volunteer army", which helped with
the clean-up after the February 2011 earthquake.
"Our vision is that student volunteering becomes as much part
of the Dunedin scarfie culture as pulling an all-nighter in
the computer lab or having a red card at your flat.
"We want to foster a sense of community-mindedness that will
see students perform feats of generosity for people, animals
or ecosystems in need," Mr Brown said.
The concept of the "scarfie army" drew inspiration from the
success of its Canterbury counterpart.
Otago Polytechnic health and safety manager Terry Buckingham
said the experience students gained as volunteers could help
them when they applied for jobs.
As part of the pilot project, vehicles belonging to the
Cancer Society, the Child Cancer Foundation, Canteen and
clients of the Dunedin Methodist Mission were given a full
Automotive engineering students carried out the work under
the supervision of staff, and Appco Auto Parts in Dunedin
donated the oil and filters.
Dunedin Methodist Mission's Charles Pearce said it was a
"fantastic" community project.
"We know that car maintenance is often a really low priority
for our clients because they are on very limited budgets. And
when maintenance doesn't happen, things are more likely to go
wrong with vehicles."
The second part of the pilot project will be a coastal
clean-up by the Otago Institute of Sport and Adventure on
Once the pilot is complete, it will be evaluated with a view
to officially launching the "scarfie army" next year.