Help: We want to engage more and more with migrants and refugees, Mollie Howarth, CAB manager for Christchurch

Mollie Howarth's involvement with CAB is almost a decade old; six years out of which, she has been the Christchurch manager of the organisation. Now, she heads a team of two part-timers, and 105 trained volunteers, all of whom team up to operate three branches and two satellites help desks across the city.

 CAB's volunteers in action at a recent seminar in rural Canterbury addressing issues of migrant dairy workers

“What we do can best be summarised as a personalised information help desk, which is open for anyone in New Zealand. You may be on a work visa, resident, citizen, or just a visitor, our trained volunteers are always at hand to provide the desired information to the best of their abilities,” she says.

“Since majority of those who come to us for help are Kiwis, our goal now is to engage more and more with migrants and refugees.”   

Volunteers at CAB are trained to provide information on a range of topics including consumer rights, family issues, tenancy or flatting disputes, mental stress, or even employment agreements. “In simple terms, while we can't provide you legal advice, we can put you in touch with legal professionals. Similarly, we are not trained therapists who can help you deal with anxieties, but can put you in touch with professionals who can. That's basically our role,” she adds.

Moving forward, CAB is planning to open another satellite help desk at the Hagley Community College this year. “Additionally, we would like to recruit more volunteers from ethnic communities, reflecting the increasing diversity of New Zealand,” she added.

Sometimes it is necessary to have official documents such as passports, birth certificates, immigration and citizenship papers certified.  In New Zealand Justice of the Peace perform this task for free. They can also certify cell phone texts and computer displayed results; administer an affidavit for you; or can complete a declaration for you.

Raj Bedi is one such Justice of the Peace (JP) who volunteers for CAB at the Hornby Branch. He is a trained interpreter and speaks fluent Hindi, Punjabi, Urudu and English. He also works as a marriage celebrant. You can email Raj Bedi at

List of CAB's free JP clinics:

- Monday 11.30-1.30, at Hornby [8 Goulding Ave] ring 349-5236

- Wednesday 12-3pm, at City [ARA Campus -] ring 366-6490

- Thursday 9.30-1.30pm, at Hornby [8 Goulding Ave] ring 349-5236

You can also call on 0800 367 222 (FOR CAB).