Volunteering one way to enjoy Womad

French backpackers Cecile Daguin and Jerome Bouvier loved Taranaki so much when they visited last year they've returned again – this time as Womad volunteers.

The couple, who hail from Paris and Brittany respectively, heard about the festival from friends but their meagre fruit picking wages couldn't stretch to cover ticket prices so volun-teering was the perfect answer.

"We really wanted to go but just couldn't afford the tickets," said Miss Daguin, 27, who like Mr Bouvier, 28, is a video game developer back in France.

The couple, who lent a hand to the festival's marketing team, were part of a 300-strong group of volunteers which helped to make Womad possible.

"Volunteers do everything that our team and the contractors can't," Taranaki Arts Festival Trust marketing and communications manager Lisa McMullan said. Volunteers operate in areas ranging from doing translations for the artists, policing seating in the over 65s areas to staffing rubbish and recycling stations.

Ms McMullan said volunteers did about 18-hours work over the three days in exchange for their passes, a deal most were more than happy with.

Womad places a big emphasis on zero waste and AFS exchange students Amanda Marques, from Brazil, and Argentine Josefina Noseda were on the front line over the weekend.

The 16-year-old Hawera High School students, who have been in the country only three weeks, took in the Womad experience while picking up litter.

The girls, who said they didn't know the names of many of the bands they had seen, were however really impressed by festival hit Babylon Circus of France.

Anyone interested in volunteering for Womad 2011 can find details and application forms on its website at www.womad.co.nz.

  • ASHLEIGH HICKEY is a Witt journalism student