It seems people are leaving Rotorua in droves.

Census figures released yesterday confirmed what we've suspected for a while. Rotorua has not only stagnated, it's gone backwards.

There are 621 fewer people living in our city now than there were seven years ago. Ouch.

Higher wages, more opportunities, nicer weather - they're all among reasons there's been an exodus in the regions of New Zealand to places like Australia and Christchurch.

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I have lots of family and friends living in Australia. We head to the Gold Coast at least once a year to visit them. They are cracking it. They have great jobs, nice cars, flash things and are happy. It's awesome to see.

As for me, I wouldn't leave Rotorua if you paid me - and you can offer big bucks too, I'm not budging.

Rotorua often gets kicked to the kerb by "haters", people saying the town is full of beggars, criminals and dropkicks.

To those people, I'd like to ask: "Where are you hanging out?"

Get yourself around some nicer and more positive people in Rotorua. Stop blaming the city for your predicament.

Sure, Rotorua, and New Zealand for that matter, has its struggles that need attacking. Our mayor-elect Steve Chadwick has the local issues high on her agenda but she's not a magician. It's going to take more than a slicker council to turn this never-ending recession around.

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But at the end of the day, there's no place like home.

Take in a whiff of that sulphur air, hop on your mountain bike or go for a stroll around the lakes and spread the word we live in paradise.