Katikati has some unique challenges, says Tauranga Budget Advisory Service manager Shirley McCombe, but has some "absolute gems" in the community ready to help.
Budget services have been operating in Katikati for three years under the Tauranga umbrella. They've been working hard to spread the word, Shirley says.
Issues in Katikati include isolation, an ageing population, poverty and seasonal workers who may struggle.
"The isolation makes it difficult for many people to engage with services that are only available in Tauranga," Shirley says. "Lack of access and cost contributes to the difficulty, especially for clients who lack financial means, transport or have reduced mobility."
Katikati is home to many older people who struggle, particularly if they lose a partner who has always managed their finances.
"There are whānau living in extreme poverty who are reluctant to engage with services. Many seasonal workers have English as a second language and struggle with fluctuating income.
But Shirley praises the "fantastic" community and the way the social sector came together, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Debt and making ends meet are the main reasons people ask for help, Shirley says.
"Things are incredibly tight for so many people and when the unexpected happens, like a car breaking down, they can not meet the inevitable cost. Feeling like they have no choice, they turn to high-interest lenders. When they can't make the repayments they are charged default interest and so the debt grows. Often debt ends up with debt collectors and the client credit rating is damaged."
The clinic, which runs out of Katikati Community Centre, is getting busier.
"But people do not necessarily understand what we do and how we work," she says. "When they come and see us they are so relieved to have someone to work alongside them and they are often amazed at the available support."
The services are open one day a week in Katikati and a financial mentor sees about four clients each day. Meetings usually last an hour or more, with more behind the scenes work advocating to Work and Income, negotiating with creditors, reviewing contracts and linking support.
• The Katikati clinic is by appointment: phone 07 578 0969.