I did a garden trail last weekend. It was amazing to see the beautiful spaces people had eked out for themselves in the dirt.
A swampy section formed into a sparkling pond-scape, a tiny yard where nearly every inch of space was planned out for maximum effect, a woodland scene in the unassuming suburbs, a country expanse as varied and cared for as any botanical garden.
Over decades people had poured talent and time and a good chunk of change into their landscaping. Incredible stuff, and no surprise, then, when this passion for place extends to their wider communities and cities.
People love their hometowns, and the towns they have made home.
But ask anyone from Rotorua: their town has changed this year.
In hotels and motels once populated by tourists from all over the world having the time of their lives, there are now Kiwis either locked in required isolation, or in even more desperate circumstances.
The first group come and go. They have better places to get to or they wouldn't be shelling out the $3100-plus for their temporary holiday prison.
But the second group - people using the accommodation for emergency housing - are a source of confusion and concern.
People don't understand where they all appeared from, and worry their town is being used as a "dumping ground" for other places' problems.
Watchdog Security chief executive Brett Wilson is the latest to ring the alarm bells, saying his staff deal with emergency housing clients regularly and know who is who - and who is new - and the people they are seeing aren't local.
He reckons Rotorua is "looking after them too well" and paying the price in its own image, with reports of rising crime on the motel strip and police noting more offenders seem to be new to town.
Wilson is not the first to call foul. Rotorua MP Todd McClay, National, raised the issuemonths ago and mayor Steve Chadwick has also expressed concern.
But the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) says fewer than 7 per cent of the emergency housing clients come from out of town - meaning 93 per cent would have to come from Rotorua.
For residents on the ground, that just doesn't tally with what they are seeing and hearing, and many remain suspicious - that much was obvious in the response to Wilson's comments.
Tauranga faced a similar problem with an influx of beggars over the last few years, culminating in an ill-conceived and essentially unenforceable begging ban that was overturned by the new council.
The ban had a lot of public support because people just felt helpless in the face of the problem and wanted someone to do something - even if that was a council with little experience tackling social issues slamming down the hammer of a punitive ban.
MSD says it doesn't "make people move from one town to another".
That's all well and good, but it seems people can still ask to come to Rotorua.
In any case, who is to say where a person is "from"?
I live in Tauranga but I know if I fell on hard times I'd be hot-footing it back to be near family in the Eastern Bay of Plenty quick-smart, and I'd lay as much claim to that being "home" as I would to Tauranga.
I lived in Rotorua for a decade, too. Sure, it was my primary school years, but I would like to reserve my right to call that "home" in a pinch, if that's where the housing was.
While I appreciate people would like to focus on looking after their own, I think it matters less where people are from and more whether the authorities are paying attention to the cumulative effects on existing communities of moving a lot of troubled people into one area.
I think most residents want to see those in dire straits receive the help they need to get back on their feet, but there are limits to their capacity for kindness when they have to watch their neighbourhoods face increasing problems that are not of their own creation.
There might be efficiencies for service providers in having a lot of high-needs people grouped together but on a wider community level, it seems like a recipe for tension and disharmony.
Residents' concern about changes to the social fabric of their neighbourhoods aren't motivated by hatred of the homeless, but by pride of place and love for their town.
It's time for some straight answers and real solutions from the authorities.