Helen Reflects on her First Few Months at Orange Sky

2022 saw four years of washing, yarning and positively connecting communities here at Orange Sky Aotearoa, such an exciting milestone! But 2022 was also a stark reminder that our services are needed now more than ever before, and to help deliver these services, a strong passionate team is needed at the core! 

To close out the year we want to introduce you to Helen, Coordinator for Friends and Volunteers! In her first few months at Orange Sky she has already hit the ground running, assisting with the launch of our fifth service in Hamilton, training new volunteers to be the very best they can for our friends, and always looking for new opportunities for connection and conversation in New Zealand. 

Helen shares a passionate reflection on the year that was, and looks ahead at the new possibilities for 2023…..

“My first few months at Orange Sky have been a roller coaster. I have days when I think I have understood everything and other days when I wonder if anything will ever make sense. But I love the pace, passion and enthusiasm of all the teams. 

My three weeks in Hamilton to roll out a new service a few weeks into the role was a massive learning opportunity and so much fun. My biggest achievement in the role so far would be helping Lisa and Belinda [insert their roles] build the fantastic team that we have in Hamilton. I love the volunteers we have found, they are truly incredible and we are so privileged that they chose Orange Sky to volunteer with.

Within my first few months at Orange Sky I am stunned at how great the need is in New Zealand. Having lived in Auckland for 15 years I thought I was pretty aware of the social situations but I really had no idea. It’s been very eye opening. 

Since the COVID pandemic, many people have lost jobs or are on reduced incomes, this means for some they can’t afford the rent or mortgage and the only option is to live in their cars or sleep rough on the street. So many of our friends have said they look forward to seeing us, to see a familiar friendly face. 

The showers are important in the city locations such as Ellen Melville in Auckland and the Lake in Hamilton, but the laundry services are so well utilised in residential areas. Launderettes are really expensive and in the recent very wet months even if the friends can wash, to get things dried costs them upwards of $20. That $20 could be spent on bread and milk and cereal for breakfasts. But most importantly the social connection that shift provides is invaluable.

In 2023 I am determined and looking forward to improving the current services in New Zealand and getting them working well and then building on the New Zealand structure introducing more services in the community. Exciting to think where we will be able to help more friends next year in New Zealand.”

Orange Sky thanks our staff, volunteers, friends, donors and wider community for your continued support, and we look forward to sharing more conversations and connecting more kiwis than ever before in 2023!

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Adam reflects on his volunteer journey with Orange Sky

Here at Orange Sky we have a simple formula; to provide a place for all Kiwis doing it tough to connect through a regular laundry and shower service. The people who bring this service to life are our volunteers; they are empathetic listeners and great conversationalists, ready to lend a helping hand. We sat down with volunteer team member Adam, to hear about his journey with Orange Sky.

“Hi my name is Adam and I am a general volunteer on the Wednesday afternoon shift in Christchurch. I help support the volunteer team, give our friends clean clothes, warm showers and help ease the load for them. 

It was such an easy process to apply to volunteer, and is perfectly in line with my values, my lifestyle and what I believe in. The time that I can volunteer is convenient and it is such a tangible way to help the community, you can directly see the impact immediately and it feels good to go home after you have provided support to our friends. 

[Before volunteering], my perceptions of what homelessness was and the reality is very different. The diversity of our friends shows a wide variety of people who need the service; no one is too far removed from getting in line for accessing clean clothes – it is a place that is open to everyone. 

I feel [Orange Sky] is important for our friends to have a place to come and chat. Human connection is so important; for some, it is possibly the only conversation they have had all week. Shift gives our friends an outlet to express their views on the world or just talk in general, it is really important.

I always believe in this saying – volunteering will set you free. Everyone has an hour to do something positive for the community, it really puts things into perspective, and provides you access to things you would not normally see.”

Adam is one of the 300+ volunteers who help to provide Kiwis doing it tough with access to free laundry services,  and of course, genuine conversation.

December 5th marks a very special day in the Orange Sky calendar – International Volunteer Day. It’s an opportunity to celebrate our remarkable team of volunteers and the work they do each day to positively connect communities through washing, showers and most importantly, genuine, non-judgmental conversations. 

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Orange Sky, along with our communities, operates in a world that continues to be impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, but what remains the same is our commitment to innovating and supporting our friends on the street.

Our mission to positively connect communities is as important as ever right now; we remain focused on ensuring we can deliver our service to friends and volunteers in safe environments.

Please review the Frequently Asked Questions, and should you require any further information, you can get in touch with our team on the details listed below.

Service Partners and Operations

For the most up-to-date information on whether shifts are operating is via the find a shift page. The ‘latest updates’ section below also provides the most recent COVID-19 information for our services across New Zealand.

Orange Sky has put in place a COVID-19 Management Plan in line with public health measures issued by the Ministry of Health to create the safest environment possible with the changing circumstances. We regularly liaise with service provider partners to ensure that the shift environment is as safe as possible.

Keeping the community safe is one of Orange Sky’s highest priorities and we take this seriously as an organisation. We have created a COVID-19 Management Plan consisting of multiple controls to support keeping the community safe. While several of these will be in place for the foreseeable future, other control measures are activated based on the current risk levels. The controls consist of the following: 

  1. Social distancing (2m) and encouraging others to do so as well.
  2. Face masks are available on shifts and must be worn when mandated by the relevant authority.
  3. Prioritising vaccinated volunteers on shift when risk levels increase
  4. If volunteers are unwell and experiencing cold and/or flu-like symptoms, they must not attend shift.
  5. Hand hygiene is promoted throughout the shift including washing hands regularly with soap and water and/or using the hand sanitiser.
  6. Increased cleaning during and at the end of shift including touchpoints, orange chairs, tables, door handles, washing baskets etc.
  7. The use of PPE including disposable gloves, masks, and safety glasses.

We are continuously monitoring the changing COVID-19 environment, and will communicate any further changes in our operations promptly. 

Yes, Orange Sky is considered an essential service as part of New Zealand’s COVID-19 response and recovery framework. Alongside other housing and social support providers, we play a critical role in supporting some of New Zealand’s most vulnerable individuals and whānau to stay connected during this difficult time. It is a priority for us to continue supporting our friends and provide our service to those who rely on us.

Using our Service and Shift Information

To keep our community safe, we would appreciate it if you don’t utilise the service whilst experiencing any cold and/or flu like symptoms. We understand this is a hard time for many. Doing what we can to minimise the spread of the virus will ensure that our orange vans can continue to show up each week to deliver free laundry, warm showers and genuine conversation.

It is currently not a requirement to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend an Orange Sky shift and access our services. However, we encourage our community to follow the government health advice. During times of increased risks from COVID-19, some services may require volunteers to be vaccinated on shift.

If you’re currently experiencing homelessness, support is available. The Ministry Of Housing and Urban Development has pulled together a list of relevant resources.

The Ministry of Health’s website is the key place to go for information about precautions to take while on shift and at home. There is also a central portal for all information on COVID-19. Healthline has a dedicated COVID-19 number for the public to access – 0800 358 5453. It’s free to call and available 24/7.  

Another resource is Āwhina, which is an anonymous website that connects people in need with everything from housing, a meal, financial help, domestic violence support, counselling and more, with thousands of services around the country.

You can also visit Lifeline, who can provide information and advice about managing your mental health during the pandemic, or find a health professional for you to speak to.


Our team works as quickly and transparently as possible with localised teams as soon as new information around COVID-19 requirements, restrictions and lockdowns  become available. Where possible, we work hard to ensure that shifts keep operating to ensure we can support our friends.

The Orange Sky operations team communicates with local leadership teams, team leaders and service providers, who will then communicate to all volunteers via your pre-determined WhatsApp group chat as soon as possible about whether a shift will be operating.

After extensive consultation with our volunteer community, we have reviewed and updated our COVID-19 Risk Management Framework to consider how and when vaccinations may be required across each of our service locations. Due to the ongoing risks COVID-19 continues to present in our communities, Orange Sky may choose to prioritise volunteers that are up to date with their vaccinations during times of heightened risk of COVID-19 or as required by government guidelines.

As part of the Orange Sky volunteer onboarding process, you will need to declare if you are up to date with your vaccinations, however, you do not need to provide evidence of vaccination. If you would prefer not to disclose if you are up to date with your vaccinations, simply select ‘no’ when signing up to be an Orange Sky volunteer. Selecting no will not affect your application process, and will not affect your ability to volunteer with Orange Sky, except during times of heightened risk of COVID-19 or as required by government guidelines, where confirmed vaccinated volunteers could be prioritised.

Orange Sky has a responsibility to provide a safe shift environment for friends, volunteers and service provider partners. By understanding the rates of vaccination within our volunteer community, we can make informed decisions when reviewing risk management policies and processes; as well as being able to easily prioritise vaccinated volunteers on shift when required. By declaring if you are up to date with your vaccinations, you will be helping to keep our vans on the road, providing meaningful connection and services to our friends.

The information can also help our team identify shifts or regions that may be at risk of being non-operational if a vaccine mandate is implemented by the government, if not enough vaccinated volunteers are rostered.

Orange Sky volunteer leaders and Orange Sky HQ will be able to see your vaccination declaration response on your profile. However, your status will not affect your ability to volunteer with Orange Sky, except during times of heightened risk of COVID-19 or as required by government guidelines, volunteers who are up to date with their vaccinations could be prioritised.

Whilst it is currently not a requirement to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend an Orange Sky shift, it is strongly recommended and vaccinated volunteers may be prioritised on shift. However, if the government mandates vaccines for a specific region, or industry, then it may be a requirement and you will not be able to attend shift.

Service Leaders and Service Coordinators will see which volunteers have completed the optional COVID-19 Vaccination Declaration. Utilising this information, they will attempt to fill each shift by rostering volunteers who have confirmed their vaccination declaration in the first instance. Prioritising vaccinated volunteers ensures that we can support teams to deliver our service to friends in the safest possible environments.

If your vaccination declaration has changed since you signed up with Orange Sky, you can email us at volunteer@orangesky.org.nz with your details and we can update your vaccination status in Volaby. 

If you’re feeling unwell, please make sure you stay home and get tested. Please notify your Team Leader as soon as possible if you are unable to attend a shift.

Orange Sky offers a VESP program to all volunteers which provides a free and confidential mental health support service. The program is designed to help you overcome any issues impacting your mental wellbeing related to your time and experience volunteering with Orange Sky. The program allows volunteers to access up to three support sessions per year. You can book a free session via the Portal.

If you have any further questions, please get in touch via our contact us page or by phoning +64 9 887 0566 during business hours. 

Volunteer enquiries: volunteer@orangesky.org.nz

Friends accessing our services

To find out if there is a shift near you or access the most up to date information, click the ‘find a shift’ button below or at the top of the page.


Service providers

If you are a service provider, please keep us updated of any changes to your service provision or environment that may have consequences for us partnering with you at your location in the future.

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Latest Updates

Kia Ora Whanau,

It’s been just over three weeks since we made the tough decision to pause our services during Alert Level 4 lockdown. With the entire country (except Auckland) now at Alert Level 2, it’s been great to see all of our Wellington shifts back up and running this week. For anyone looking to use our services in Wellington, please keep an eye on our schedule as some shift times may vary by an hour or so to accomodate new meal times of the service providers we’re working alongside. We hope to have the majority of our Auckland shifts online again once Alert Level 3 is announced. As soon as we know a shift is going ahead, we’ll update the schedule. If you have any further questions on this please get in touch via our contact us page here.

Take Care,
Orange Sky team.

Due to the current COVID-19 outbreak in New Zealand, Auckland and Wellington are currently under mandatory, level 4 restrictions. Although Orange Sky remains an essential service, we’ve made the difficult decision to pause all shifts across Auckland and Wellington. We will take this time to ensure that we can support shifts operating in a safe environment for our friends, volunteers and the greater community. Our thoughts go out to everyone who has been impacted by the recent COVID-19 outbreak – especially our friends doing it tough. We hope to be back out there operating again soon. If you have any further questions on this please get in touch via our contact us page here.


Follow our socials for up to date information on how Orange Sky is responding to the COVID-19 outbreak, as well as some positive news stories about our community

Ways to Support

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To Terry, From Eddie

“We all have hearts…. If you have a heart, love somebody. If you have enough heart, love everybody.” ~ Stevie Wonder

I can clearly remember the first time I met Terry. We had just launched our first van, Hugo and were parked outside St Matthews car park in Auckland City. It was cold, wet and 6am in the morning. Terry was actually bringing along a friend who needed to use our services, but he stuck around for a chat while he waited. 

As he and I were talking, we discovered that we shared a mutual love for Stevie Wonder songs. For years after that, Terry would come out weekly and visit the volunteers on shift just to connect, to pull out his speaker and play some 80s tunes for us to enjoy. 

Orange Sky Aotearoa recognises how lonely and isolating it can be for people doing it tough. Terry understood that too and he shared that same passion for connecting with others. He would always be the first to welcome any new person – whether it was a new volunteer on shift or someone using our services. At Orange Sky, we refer to anyone who comes along to shift as a ‘friend,’ and Terry was the first to make me realise that it was so much more than just a word.

It’s hard to imagine a world without Terry’s bright and gentle energy to keep us company, but I take comfort in knowing that he was surrounded by so many people that he had impacted and who loved him dearly. 

I am blessed to have called you my friend Terry, and do life alongside you for a time. I’ll miss our chats and having you out with us on shift. I hope to make you proud, and I’ll be sure to keep the Stevie Wonder tunes playing as a reminder of your impact on all of our lives.  


Terry’s legacy of unwavering kindness, acceptance and friendship will forever be a part of our service in New Zealand. Our hearts go out to Terry’s family, the Auckland team and wider New Zealand community of friends, volunteers and staff who had the pleasure of knowing and connecting with Terry.

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Why everyone needs connection

These past few years have provided many challenges and hardships for kiwis all across the country. At Orange Sky, it’s not just been about providing laundry and shower services, but finding ways for our community to stay connected; despite lockdowns and restrictions impacting us all.

Selwyn is one of the friends who we’ve been lucky enough to get to know during this time. Although sleeping rough when we first met him, he was still able to blow us away with his incredible street art that you can find around Auckland. 

Selwyn has now found a place to call home, and even has his own washing machine, but still comes along to shift every Monday evening to catch up with the team. It’s such a simple interaction, but it makes me realise how important connection and community really is to all of us.

Selwyn is one of thousands of Kiwis experiencing homelessness, but many more are disconnected from their community and in need of your support. Orange Sky currently operates 34 shifts a week across Aotearoa through a dedicated team of over 260 volunteers.

There’s never been a more important time for our vans to be out in the community supporting our friends doing it tough, and providing a safe and welcoming space to connect. 

If you are in a position to support our mission – whether that’s by making a donation or giving your time to volunteer – you will not only be helping to keep our vans on the road, but allowing us to grow our services and support more people doing it tough. 

Learn more about how you can support Orange Sky

Thank you for supporting our mission to positively connect communities – we couldn’t do what we do without you. 

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Meet Selwyn: Why kōrero is more than just a conversation

When we first met Selwyn on shift in Auckland, he was sleeping rough – as thousands of Kiwis do each night. But it wasn’t just free laundry and shower services that he found at shift, he also found a place to connect…

“My name’s Selwyn Vercoe. I descend from the Ngāti Awa and Ngāti Porou tribes of Aotearoa. 

The Orange Sky service is important because it serves a lot of people who need these services – like having a shower and getting your laundry done. 

I’ve been here where people have lined up to have a shower and get their laundry done [and] waited till about seven o’clock… that’s when I realised how important [the Orange Sky service] is for our street people. 

It’s humbling to witness how [the volunteers] express their hospitality to the community. They never judge. [Friends] can come here and enjoy the hospitality without fear or judgement. A lot of our street people have been products of the environment, so it’s good to have this type of service in the community where our street people don’t fear judgement.”

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Selwyn was one of the 41,600 New Zealanders experiencing homelessness. Orange Sky was able to support Selwyn during this time in his life by providing access to free laundry and shower services, as well as a place for kōrero on our six orange chairs. 

Although Selwyn now has a place to call home, he is still a familiar face at our Monday night shift. It’s no longer about doing a load of laundry or jumping in for a warm shower, but he’s still there to access a service that’s essential to all of us – connection. 

As part of our mission to triple our impact for people experiencing homelessness and disadvantage across the Australasian region by 2025, we plan to expand our services in Aotearoa.

But we need your help to support more Kiwis doing it tough.

Everyone needs connection.

Please, donate today.

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Orange Sky Wellington wins Rising Star Award!

Orange Sky is immensely proud of our Wellington team who have been awarded the Rising Star Award, thanks to Wellington Airport Regional Community Awards

With 41,000 Kiwis experiencing homelessness on any given night, there is still more work to be done. We are driven by our purpose to create safe and positive environments for friends doing it tough. Our Wellington service is more than the warm showers and clean washing facilities. It is built on the genuine connections built between volunteers and friends. Friends like John, who lost their income and house due to an illness putting him out of work. Volunteers like Nicola, who are passionate about helping the community and understanding the unique voices of our Kiwi friends on the street. 

The Rising Star category stood alongside incredible services in our Wellington community. We want to congratulate all finalists including:

🏆 Edible Earth Hampshire with WELLfed (Porirua)

🏆 Food 4 Thought (Upper Hutt)

🏆 Lower Hutt Muslimah Committee (Hutt City)

🏆 Zero Waste Otaki Zero Waste Ōtaki (Kāpiti)

Each week, Wellington volunteers do incredible work in the community, supporting our friends doing it tough. We are incredibly grateful for the time that they gift us and so proud that they’ve been recognised through this award. 

If you’re interested in learning more about your community, lending a hand or having a chat, check out this video below! To learn more about becoming an Orange Sky volunteer today, see more details here.

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Introducing van, ‘Whaea Debz’ to the Orange Sky family

After officially launching our third service in Aotearoa in November 2021, we have been on the hunt for a fitting name to honour our newest bright orange companion. 

We hosted a nationwide van naming competition, which called on Kiwis to honour a New Zealander making a difference in their community by submitting their name. 

After receiving more than 80 submissions nominating worthy local heroes, ‘Whaea Debz’ was given the top honour by our judging panel! 

The Auckland-based hybrid laundry and shower van is named after local community hero, Debbie Munroe, who is affectionately known as Whaea Debz. 

Debbie is the founder of Waka of Caring – a drop-in centre in Manurewa that provides food, clothing, blankets, books and connection for those experiencing homelessness or hardship.

Alongside Debbie were fellow finalists Fiona Anderson, whose support and volunteering within the Piha community spans 15-plus years, and Judge Andrew Becroft, a long-time legal advocate for the underrepresented in his former roles as Children’s Commissioner for New Zealand and Principal Youth Court Judge. 

The competition judging panel included the Mayor of Auckland, Phil Goff, Auckland City Mission Team Leader Homeless Service Wilf Holt, Orange Sky New Zealand Volunteer Nicola Kueh and Simplicity Charitable Trustee Frances Arns.

The naming of ‘Whaea Debz’ follows the Orange Sky tradition of honouring our vans with meaningful names – from inaugural Australian service ‘Sudsy’ back in 2014, to New Zealand’s first two hybrid vans: ‘Hugo’ in Auckland and ‘Hudson’ in Wellington.

‘Hugo’ honours The Hugo Charitable Trust, which allowed Orange Sky to start operations in Aotearoa. ‘Hudson’ is named after the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development and Wellington City Mission to acknowledge their generous support in launching the second Orange Sky service.

Local hero and youth worker, Debbie said it was heart-warming to be recognised by the community and have her name immortalised on an Orange Sky van.

“It was a beautiful surprise and an absolute honour to have one of the Orange Sky vans named after me. I don’t do it for recognition, I am just doing what I feel everyone should be doing – helping those who need our support,” said Debbie.

“I have been supporting the homeless, and those who are struggling, for 10 years now and it’s incredible to see how a meal and a warm, welcoming smile and kōrero can impact someone’s day.

“It is so simple to show someone kindness and turn their day around – the community is what brings us together,” she said.

The new van, supported by Simplicity Charitable Trust, enables Orange Sky to increase our availability in Tāmaki Makaura to support the nation’s most vulnerable communities.

Orange Sky New Zealand Operations Manager, Eddie Uini said the van naming submissions highlighted so many local heroes who are making an impact and creating a difference in their communities.

“In line with Orange Sky’s mission to positively connect communities, it’s an honour to recognise the individuals and organisations going above and beyond to support the community.

“The difference that Debbie and Waka of Caring have made in the last 10 years is nothing short of inspirational, and we’re pleased to be able to recognise all the incredible work by naming our third van after her.”

Read more about Debbie’s incredible community work here.

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A third set of wheels to support New Zealanders doing it tough

It’s been nearly two months since we launched our third service in New Zealand, and we’ve already seen the impact of what another set of wheels can do across Auckland!

Supported by Simplicity Charitable Trust, a second laundry and shower van is now making its way around the streets of Auckland, allowing us to increase our weekly shifts from 17 to 25.

From the launch of our very first van ‘Sudsy’ in Australia back in 2014, to our two vans in New Zealand, Hugo and Hudson, every Orange Sky van is given a name. With the arrival of our new Auckland van, we asked the community to help us pick a name by recognising and celebrating a fellow New Zealander. We received some incredible submissions, with judging currently underway to decide whose name will live permanently on our bright new orange van! Stay tuned for the announcement later this month.

So, why Auckland?

There are more than 41,000 Kiwis doing it tough, and nearly half (43.9%) of those people reside in Auckland alone. This includes people without shelter, and those living in temporary accommodation, shared accommodation and uninhabitable housing (2018 Severe Housing Deprivation Estimate – updated).

Orange Sky operates 38 services across Australia and New Zealand, and Auckland is consistently our busiest service across the fleet when it comes to the number of loads of laundry and warm showers that our volunteers provide. 

Orange Sky New Zealand Operations Manager, Eddie Uini said the addition of a third van would help the team manage the ongoing demand, as Kiwis continue to endure the impacts of the pandemic.

“The last 12 months has really brought Aotearoa’s homelessness to the forefront and we have witnessed a strong demand from friends, especially here in Auckland,” he said.

“We know the past year has been particularly challenging as more people struggle to pay for basics like food and rent. A survey we conducted recently with YouGov found that in the past 12 months, one in five Kiwis have struggled to make ends meet each and every week.

“With the addition of a second van, we’ve been able to operate in more locations, and help more friends in the community who are struggling financially and/or socially.”

What’s next for Orange Sky?

In line with Orange Sky’s five year vision, we’re planning to triple our impact and help more than 40,000 friends across New Zealand and Australia by 2025. Since launching our first service in Auckland back in 2018, we’ve been planning for how we can grow our impact to support more Kiwis experiencing homelessness.

​​In 2022, we have plans to expand our reach across New Zealand and welcome a fourth service to support those doing it tough. To keep up-to-date on all things Orange Sky and our expansion plans, be sure to follow us on socials.

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