Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Absolutely Positively Ageing: Positive ageing and volunteering in Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand

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posted on 2021-11-15, 20:18 authored by Clowes, Alice

Population ageing is a key development issue worldwide, and governments around the world are working to address the changing needs that accompany this demographic shift (Vos, Ocampo & Cortez, 2008). In New Zealand, the Government and the Wellington City Council have developed the Positive Ageing Strategy (2001) and the Positive Ageing Policy (2012) respectively in response to population ageing. Both the Strategy and the Policy pay particular attention to the importance of the continued social inclusion of older people in their communities. One of the ways that this inclusion is encouraged is through older people’s participation in voluntary activities.  This research explores the lived experiences of older people who volunteer in the Wellington region to understand the nature of the relationship between volunteering and positive ageing. The exploratory nature of the research necessitated a qualitative research design. Through semi-structured interviews with 12 members of the volunteer community I explored the underlying themes of this research project including motivations for participation in voluntary work, skills and knowledge brought to and developed through volunteering, challenges and barriers to participation in voluntary work, and the participants’ awareness of representations and stereotypes around ageing.  The research findings illustrate the complexities inherent in the relationship between volunteering and positive ageing and show how volunteering was used by the participants as a means to resist and challenge negative stereotypes and representations of ageing. There was a fine balance between the promotion of volunteering as one of a multitude of ways in which older people can participate in their communities and overstating the benefits of volunteering to individuals and their communities without revealing the potential challenges.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Development Studies

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Development Studies

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences


Overton, John; Stupples, Polly