Northlanders disconnected from one another are being rallied together by a Whangārei woman as she pursues a national first for Neighbourhood Support.
Hannah White, 35, made history as the first community adviser for Neighbourhood Support New Zealand when she recently took up the mantle for all of Northland.
Her enthusiasm spilled over as she talked about her new role and what it meant for the region.
"It's about creating connected communities where people get to know their neighbours and – together - are prepared for emergencies like Covid or a tsunami."
Ideally a street contact is appointed and responsible for each road or street. They are supported by White and also nationally by Neighbourhood Support New Zealand.
During lockdown inquiries received by Neighbourhood Support New Zealand skyrocketed.
"Which showed how many people were not connected to their neighbours but wanted to be," White said.
And her appointment was part of a solution to address a "black hole" in the region when it came to Neighbourhood Support members groups.
Currently the only three Neighbourhood Support groups in Northland are in Whangārei, Donnelly's Crossing near the Waipoua Kauri Forest, and Baylys Beach close to Dargaville.
However, White said she was working with a further four to finalise memberships.
Within her new role she is able to support the talk being spun around Northland about what different communities feel would improve their neighbourhoods.
"A woman in Kaitaia has suggested a community garden - which would be amazing," White said.
"Another man in Ruakākā raised the idea of creating collective emergency response plans after his experience with the tsunami evacuation."
White stressed Neighbourhood Support was about coming together as opposed to the days of old when the police run Neighbourhood Watch centred around reporting crime.
A reduction in victimisation was a natural outcome of communities loaded with strong relationships between residents alongside improved resilience, White said.
White was bringing every skill to her role that she learned from her previous careers in the youth and community sectors, as well as event planning and creating her own brand of Kombucha called Kombuchur.
Her philosophy to respect yourself, others, and the place you live puts her in great stead for the role she is fulfilling.
"People get excited when I talk about it from the fact that it's my passion and I really, really believe in it."
White encouraged anyone and everyone interested in contributing to sign up at https://www.neighbourhoodsupport.co.nz/get-involved or phone 0800 4NEIGHBOURS.
Two Neighbourhood Support Tai Tokerau hui are being held on June 2 at 5.30pm in the Te Ahu Community Centre in Kaitaia, and on June 19 at 4.30pm in the Bream Bay Community Support Trust Hall in Ruakākā.