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The awards were announced on Wednesday by Volunteer South chairman and Dunedin city councillor Andrew Whiley at a event attended by more than 30 representatives of the volunteer sector, Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins and several councillors.
Cr Whiley said the SBS Dunedin Volunteer Awards, also supported by The Star newspaper, were part of a National Volunteer Week celebration.
The new awards, described by organisers as "a game-changer for the voluntary sector", aimed to focus on "grassroots" volunteers and organisations, and not only on the biggest organisations that supported volunteers, he said.
They would celebrate volunteering across the Dunedin community, and the first winners would be announced on September 11.
"This will be celebrating both our volunteer-led community groups and organisations but also our volunteers," he said.
There was a special focus on youth, and a youth award would recognise upcoming leaders of volunteering.
Cr Whiley said 71% of Dunedin’s new volunteers were younger than 30.
He added that volunteering had risen 25% since this time last year.