Volunteer life at Orama

Orama Oasis is truly a ‘global village’ with both kiwi and international volunteers learning, laughing, sharing and working side by side. We offer a unique opportunity to live and work in a faith community in one of the most stunning natural locations in the world.

We take both short term (1 to 3 months) and long term (6 to 12 months) volunteers. Some volunteers have felt called to stay even longer and in some cases have eventually joined our staff.


How can I contribute?

Orama is a place of welcome and hospitality. The turnover of guests and clients is constant. As a volunteer you will be an integral part of the daily running of Orama. The main tasks would be housekeeping and kitchen help and occasionally gardening / grounds work or maintenance jobs. As well as the daily tasks you will have the opportunity to work in your area or skill or interest.

There are usually a few different projects on the go; for example building a playground, reinforcing the creek after flooding, refreshing the paint in the guest accommodation, promotion of events, catering for an event. Orama values personal development and acknowledges that each volunteer comes with different skills or interests. Your individual giftings can be discovered and developed while you contribute to the daily life of community.

What other activities are available?

With the ocean at our front door and many onsite recreational areas like a gym and large front lawn for sport, a sound system and musical equipment, books and movie projector there are many things to do in your spare time. Swimming, trampolining, sports, fishing, snorkelling, hiking, sunbathing and kayaking are all things you can do from Orama. With transport and gear you can also go surfing, surf kayaking or exploring other parts of the island.

Great Barrier Island lends itself to outdoor activities and being in nature, with no mall or cinema on the island it’s up to you make your own fun and do things ‘from scratch’ for example planning a fishing trip, getting the gear together, finding a fishing spot, catching the fish, filleting cooking and eating the fish! Within Orama there is an organisation called Hillary Outdoors who provide Outdoor education for school groups who come to the island for week long or long term programs. Orama is a hub for people who enjoy outdoor activities and it is wonderful to live alongside people worth skills and passion for the outdoors.

What is life like for volunteers and staff?

He aha te mea nui o te ao. What is the most important thing in the world?

"He tangata, he tangata, he tangata It is the people, it is the people, it is the people." Maori proverb.

Perhaps the most you will get out of coming to Orama is more to do with people and relationships than work or location. The community is welcoming and genuinely cares about people’s well-being. There is a generational mix of families, couples and single people from New Zealand and overseas - all living together. If you are coming as a volunteer you will most likely be integrated into a self-contained house with other volunteers or possibly a single room in the main lodge with shared facilities.

Families and long-term staff are accommodated in private housing. Orama has a common area where everyone meets which includes a dining room, commercial kitchen and big lounge to hang out in. We meet in the dining room for morning tea, lunch and dinner during the week. On the weekend you can cook for yourself in your own accommodation or plan to eat together with others.

Living in the ‘vollie flat’ with other volunteers you get many opportunities to do things together, like cooking and eating as a little family, playing games, watching movies or taking a hike. Visiting with people for a cup of tea or a meal is something past volunteers report as being a highlight of their time at Orama. Meal times are a key part of the way that we connect with each other.

What provision is there for spending time focussed on God?

Orama is a close-knit Christian community of like-minded people striving to live transparently and authentically in their expression of self and spirituality. They value meeting together and sharing regularly. A dedicated 24 hour prayer chapel is available with group prayer and reflection running each week day morning between 8 and 8.30 am. Devotions and prayer as a community takes place each morning tea with a time of fellowship on Wednesday evenings and worship on Sundays.

Orama is an environment that fosters rest and reflection. A large welcoming lounge is always available to retreat to, offering a wood fire, comfy couches with blankets, bibles, a sound system, projector (great for movies) and stunning views. St Johns a local inter-denominational church meets each Sunday and is a 30 minutes drive down the island at Medlands. Orama staff are inter-generational and there is always someone available to meet with volunteers and fellowship together as a part of daily life.

Our volunteers are a key part of Orama's mutli-cultural make up. At Orama each individual is recognised as having something of value to contribute regardless of age, background, reason for coming or length of stay. No one person is more important than another and everyone's time here is a significant part of their journey. As a volunteer you will welcomed with open arms and will be a valued member of our community.

Our Testimonies

One Memorable Month!

"Orama Oasis was a place of peaceful refuge and restoration for me. I stumbled upon the idea of a retreat center through a friend who had found a similar experience very healing for her. On my own journey towards renewal, healing and progression, I wanted to dig deeper into myself and especially I wanted to walk closer to God. My expectations as I landed on Great Barrier Island were for quiet solitude, plenty of nature, and extensive introspection. God knew this was not all of what I needed!

The most transforming aspect I found on the island was the genuine and loving community at Orama. There were undoubtedly, divinely-placed connections God established here and I felt I had joined a makeshift family of brothers and sisters in Christ.

I discovered opportunities for hiking, kayaking, rock-climbing, star-gazing, gardening, beaches, hot pools and even my favorite, horseback riding! I enjoyed learning about Maori culture via other communities on the island. But most of all, I found beautiful worship opportunities everywhere I went and it felt that every day was an act of worship and praise to our beautiful Lord as I served in the Orama community! This was a time of deep transformation, healing, community, faith and love. I truly walked away from Orama a different person than I had arrived. And the main driving force behind this was God's presence, which I completely re-discovered while on this unique island."

Jessica, volunteer from USA, 30 April - 29 May 2017

Call to serve in Orama

"My life totally change since i met God in New Zealand, when i start traveling in October 2016. Few months later, I met some people from Orama Community who propose me to work for them, and here I am ! It's just an Amazing place ! it's like a return to a simple life far from cities and close to the Nature ! It's just the perfect environment to make a break in your life and focus yourself on the important things 🙂 The community welcome me so warmly and help me so much in my journey with God ! I give a hand monday to friday and it's just a pleasure to work here and take time to know people here. I really feel that this place is Bless and full of the presence of God, and i believe that it's only a beginning!"

Pico, volunteer from France, 5 April - 25 August 2017

Make Orama Great Again

"Orama is a community, and you will be a part of the community, and it is the best thing to be volunteer here. You will always have good people around you, and there are always people you can hang out with. To be a part of a community is a special experience, and if you put a lot into it, you will get a lot back! Orama is also a place surrounded by great nature. You can enjoy the nature on many of the islands hiking tracks, take a little walk up to incredible lookouts or just take a look to the sea when you work. I spend so much time as possible outside, where the island have really good fishing, kayaking, hiking and surfing. It is a different experience you can get, when you are a volunteer for Orama, and it is a good place to know yourself better."

Anders, volunteer from Danemark, 27 January - 12 July 2017

Such a Good Place

"Hi, my name is Tobi, I'm 20 years old and I'm an ACVE-volunteer at Orama. I came to Orama/ the Barrier about a year ago and am absolutely stoked to be here and I'm loving and enjoying the community-life, as well as the barrier-life in this very special place. There are so many great things to do here (especially in the outdoors) and so many great people around; Orama is a place where I have grown a lot, where I learned so many things and life skills and a place where I made so many great friends and I'm happy and proud to call this place home."

Tobi, volunteer from Germany, 15 August 2016 - 12 July 2017

Plan to stay longer?

"My name is David. I am in my mid 50s and I have been a long-term volunteer at Orama for 18 months along with my 19 year old son, Jordan, who has down syndrome. I came to Orama as I have always been interested in living and working in a Christian Community. I was hoping to develop deeper relationships with people that I was not finding in my previous life. I am loving working and living together with the people of Orama, including other volunteers, the staff from Hillary Outdoors and the multitude of people that come to the various camps. It has also been a great opportunity for my son, Jordan, to develop in relating to people and gaining work and life experience. Since being here he has grown hugely in confidence and is enjoying himself and considers this home. All the community have embraced him and helped make him a valuable part of the community. Jordan has his own tasks to do mainly around cleaning and kitchen duties which he enjoys and I work mainly on outdoor maintenance, truck driving and vehicle maintenance. We live in a self-contained 2 bedroom flat in the Orama grounds, in among other staff housing and only a stones throw from the ocean. I originally came to Orama for a 3 month period to see what it would be like and have continued to extend my time here and will be remaining now until the Lord shows me it is time to move on to something else."

David, volunteer from New Zealand, from January 2016