The Volunteer Army Foundation is a New Zealand registered charitable trust.  

Our Mission

The Volunteer Army Foundation exists to further the ethos of the original Student Volunteer Army. 


  • Trust people first.

  • Humbly serve communities (local and global).

  • Value all people for their unique contribution.

  • Utilise the resources at our fingertips to build resilience.

  • Nurture volunteer and team motivation.

  • Achieve practical results with respect and humility.

  • Opensource our IP, experiences, successes and failures for others to learn from.

  • Stay playful, adventurous and ambitious. 


We seek to ensure all projects associated or connected with the Student Volunteer Army remain true to the original values and ethos.

We collaborate on several projects with members of the SVA alumni, universities, schools and institutions giving support, advice and providing a legal basis for projects that seek to further the ethos of the original Student Volunteer Army in New Zealand. Our core activities are as an advisory group to the UC Student Volunteer Army Incorporated and SVA Founder Sam Johnson for projects in New Zealand. 

While we have no active staff, if you are considering working on a project or would like to start your own Student Volunteer Army, service club, disaster response or other related project, we are more than happy to share our experiences and support you to make an positive impact. 

“At the very worst of times, you see the best of New Zealanders. You are the best of New Zealand.”
— Rt Hon John Key, Prime Minister of New Zealand

What We've Achieved

  • Supported the Student Volunteer Army to continue beyond the original earthquake response.
  • Produced a revolutionary music event for 8,000 people who each volunteered 4+ hours to earn their ticket. 
  • Developed a manual for creating an SVA Club in a university or schools. 
  • Advocated to change traditional views held by emergency management agencies on the role of spontaneous volunteers.
  • Presented at more than 500 events to activate people to build on the Christchurch experience.
  • Partnered with UNESCO to conceive the UNESCO Youth Forum: Looking Beyond Disasters (LBD), continuing in 10 countries.
  • Developed 'Youth Beyond Disasters' to mobilise global action by young people on disasters (2000+ members).
  • Advocated with the UN Major Group of Children and Youth to alter the UN framework for risk reduction to be inclusive of young people. 
  • Held round-table discussions with hundreds of volunteer organisations, businesses and government agencies on the changing nature of volunteerism and long term resilience.