SVA founder to speak at communnity awards event


A South Islander whose name is synonymous with a new generation of volunteers is guest speaker at this year’s Gore District Community Awards.

Sam Johnson, who founded the Student Volunteer Army (SVA) after the Canterbury earthquakes, will share his experiences at the awards evening in Gore on Friday, November 3.

Gore District Council events and promotions co-ordinator Emma Carle said it was an excellent opportunity to get ideas from someone who knew how to engage volunteers on a grand scale.

“Everyone has a degree of interest in the Canterbury earthquakes. For those who are involved in groups that rely on volunteers, I’m sure Sam will have plenty of ideas about how to attract people, particularly those from the younger generation,” Ms Carle said.

“Sam is in high demand as a speaker globally, so we’re really lucky to have him at the awards,” she said.

Mr Johnson, a farm boy turned entrepreneur, became a household name in New Zealand when he founded what had become New Zealand’s largest volunteer movement, she said.

The SVA started as a small social media page, and now has 3000 members in tertiary education and 29,000 primary school members, encompassing 976 schools.

Mr Johnson won the Sir Peter Blake Leadership Award in 2011 and in 2012 was named Young New Zealander of Year for his leadership and Communicator of the Year for his honest media commentary.

Nominations for the 11th annual Gore District Community Awards close this Friday, September 15. Forms can be picked up from the Gore District Council civic administration building or found online at

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