A Christmas visit to volunteers helping quake-stricken Christchurch suburbs may see new Minister of Civil Defence, Napier MP Chris Tremain, link government and the Student Volunteer Army.
Mr Tremain, who took up the ministerial role this month, spent yesterday shovelling liquefaction silt with volunteers in the hard-hit eastern suburb of New Brighton.
He also spent part of the day meeting with University of Canterbury student and the army's co-ordinator, Sam Johnson, discussing ways the government could work with the volunteers.
"I spent about an hour with him talking through some of the issues he had co-ordinating volunteers between Civil Defence and his organisation, and to see if there were ways in the future we could streamline that," he said.
"I think there needs to be a way that we can close that chasm between professional organisations and the groups of people that team up on the spot, and see if we can help these two types of volunteers to work together."
Mr Tremain said it had been a huge year for volunteers in New Zealand.
"Volunteers have come out in their thousands around the country to help when the chips were down," he said.
"On Boxing Day there were more than 400 people volunteering in Christchurch."
Mr Tremain was one of the coordinators of the Magpie Army that helped out after the flooding in Waimarama.
He said volunteering not only got work done, but was a "psychological lift" to stricken home-owners and affected residents.