In 1967 I went to the New Hebrides (now Vanuatu) as part of Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA).

To say it was a culture shock to a young Kiwi is an understatement.  Nevertheless, the work we did then which has continued since is a valuable part of New Zealand’s foreign aid programme.

New Zealand is a world leader in areas like agriculture and tourism development that are vital for developing countries, especially in the Pacific.  The announcement last week that New Zealand is adding an extra $24 million to assisting VSA with this work is welcome.

In 2011 VSA volunteers improved access to drinking water for almost 9000 people, provided sanitation facilities for more than 3000, treated more than 200 patients, and upgraded 90 kilometres of roads.

It is one aid area where we can make a tangible difference to our neighbours.