A local woman with a love for people and gardens has won the Keep New Zealand Beautiful volunteer of the month award - simply for being herself.

Mohney Hodge moved to Western Heights six months ago after working hard with her late husband to get her old neighbourhood in Selwyn Heights looking spic and span.

When she moved in she sent out an invitation to all her close neighbours asking if they would like to volunteer to pick up rubbish. The first time, she was the only one who showed up, and the second and the third time it was the same.

But then she started to notice people out and about picking up rubbish and since then she has got to know several of her neighbours who, with her encouragement, have started growing fruit and vegetables in their backyards which they share with each other.

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"It's about taking care of your land and your community and supporting your community."

The Salvation Army has a big influence on Mrs Hodge, not only does she volunteer there, she also lives by its core values such as loving one another and helping those in need.

Mrs Hodge suffered an aneurism with three separate brain bleeds about nine years ago, this, temporarily, took her ability to walk and talk away from her.

"I still struggle every day with headaches and pain. Some days I function okay and other days I'm not able to." She said the recovery process was "terrible".

"I had to learn to walk, talk, think and even now I can get on a roll quickly and people miss what I'm trying to say because I move on too fast."

It was just after the brain aneurism that she decided to get involved with Keep New Zealand Beautiful.

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"I was going to the shop and I saw a piece of paper and I put it in the bin, then I put more in the bin and then more still."

She used to do her volunteer work with her late husband Arama Hodge and she said they had won four awards together before, but not the New Zealand one and this was the first one she had one without him.

She said, even though she was honoured, it made her feel sad to win the award without him, but she knew he would be proud of her.

Mrs Hodge has more plans for her neighbourhood beginning with cleaning up the stream at the end of her road and then sorting out the section at the other end including trying to get a playground put in for local children.

Keep Rotorua Beautiful co-ordinator Nadene McClay nominated Mrs Hodge for the Keep New Zealand Beautiful February volunteer of the month award. "She is fantastic because she motivates other people, she has got her whole neighbourhood taking better care of itself ...

"She is an inspiration. When something like that happens to you, you ask 'what can I do?' And what she has done is really positive."