A passion for our region is the driver behind Barbara Gillham's decision to stand for the Tararua District Council in the local body elections this year.

"I moved to Dannevirke two years ago and I believe Tararua has huge potential, but we've got to promote ourselves."

Barbara, a freelance writer and photographer, said she's here to stay.

"I want to put my energy into promoting our district," she said. "The Tararua is a beautiful place, it's quirky and our community's wonderful.

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"There are lots of opportunities, but we need more people, more businesses and we need people spending money here. Just look at Woodville, it's thriving and I want to see the rest of Tararua doing the same."

Barbara said she's concerned about the number of empty shops in Dannevirke, but she believes attracting outlet shops, such as those in Otaki, could be one answer, tapping into the more than 8000 vehicles which travel along our High Street every day.

"We need to promote Tararua, because I don't think enough people know where it is," she said.

But Barbara also appreciates it will take hard work, drive and energy.

"I get so frustrated when I see empty shops," she said. "We have so much to offer. Look at our house prices, they're affordable and we are so central. The people in this district are wonderful, and, since moving here, I've been made very, very welcome and I'd like to put something back into this area."

Before moving to Dannevirke Barbara was a journalist for Newstalk ZB in Wairarapa and she works as a freelancer for Fairfax Media and the Tararua Business Network.