Residents living in some of the country's low-income communities report feeling as if their struggles with issues of employment, crime and safety, finding a house and futures for their children often go unnoticed.

The Salvation Army has released a report; The state of our communities, which highlights the strengths, the challenges and the future aspirations of those living in three New Zealand suburbs: Linwood, Papakura and Porirua.

The findings from two months of research and 300 interviews are being presented in Parliament today.

Report author Ronji Tanielu said the residents often spoke of pride in their community, but also of what worried them and their hopes for the future. Photo / SALVATION ARMY
Report author Ronji Tanielu said the residents often spoke of pride in their community, but also of what worried them and their hopes for the future. Photo / SALVATION ARMY

"They want the young and old to mix and all people to have enough and to be free of intimidation, inequality and poverty."

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It was the Salvation Army's hope that the voices of those in the report would be heard by the nation's leaders and help influence change.

Here are the people's stories.

The largest concern for residents in Linwood, Christchurch, was crime and safety, with 46 per cent citing it as a main worry. Photo / Google
The largest concern for residents in Linwood, Christchurch, was crime and safety, with 46 per cent citing it as a main worry. Photo / Google

LINWOOD

In this eastern Christchurch suburb the people report feeling a sense of pride, of resilience among its people - in particular since the 2011 earthquakes.

But it's not always so easy, when faced with challenges around employment, poverty, housing and a landscape rocked by the earthquakes.

But, as a local principal said, the residents felt connected to the suburb - despite these challenges.

"The east side is seen as the poor man's Christchurch ... not desirable to live ... but the people that live here love it.

"There's intergenerational hardship here, but people are positive in the face of adversity."

The largest concern for Linwood residents appeared to be crime and safety, with 46 per cent citing it as a main worry. There were concerns around the numbers of people "struggling with alcohol, drugs and some beggars intimidating people" as well as reports of gangs causing trouble.

The residents hoped, moving forward to the future, there would be a way to revitalise the community, get rid of abandoned buildings, and bring in resources to "help Linwood thrive".

They wanted more to be done for the children and youth, to give them a safe space in the open, and for there to be more jobs for residents and more community events to bring people together.

The good
Sense of community: 56 per cent
Proximity and location: 29 per cent
Local economy: 7 per cent
Environment: 8 per cent

The concerns
Crime and Safety: 46 per cent
Poverty: 24 per cent
Children and youth: 18 per cent
Health and Environment: 12 per cent

The hopes and dreams
Revitalise the city: 48 per cent
More for children and youth: 19 per cent
Community change: 18 per cent
Safer community: 15 per cent

Low incomes and high rents were seen as the main pressures in Papakura. Photo / Google
Low incomes and high rents were seen as the main pressures in Papakura. Photo / Google

PAPAKURA

In Papakura, 30 minutes from Auckland's CBD, most of the residents spoke of their love and pride for a community that helped those in need.

"Social services help people here, the homeless are helped and there's a good community spirit," one resident said.

But struggles with low income, expensive housing and other factors contributing to poverty was making things tough for many, said one local community worker.

"A lot of the problems here are directly related to low incomes and high rents ... this is the main pressure."

Residents felt most of Auckland saw Papakura in a poor light, but acknowledged a number of serious social issues had driven this perception.

Main issues included crime and safety, with 43 per cent reportedly being concerned about this, in particular crime fuelled by drug-use, alcohol and gangs. Keeping youth busy and on track to a good future was another significant concern for 32 per cent of those living in Papakura.

But the local community worker hoped work to overcome these challenges would help the community become stronger.

"[I hope] they grow on their strengths of helping each other and that they have a sense of pride in themselves and that they are a community of hope."

The residents hoped for greater investment in the local economy so they could get jobs, and break the cycle of poverty, and for affordable homes for locals and for the homeless.

The good
Sense of community: 72 per cent
Local economy: 15 per cent
Proximity: 13 per cent

The concerns
Crime & Safety: 43 per cent
Local economy: 25 per cent
Youth and children: 32 per cent

The hopes and dreams
Local economy: 27 per cent
Children and youth: 21 per cent
Housing: 19 per cent
Events and environment: 18 per cent
Crime and Safety improved: 15 per cent

Crime, safety and perceptions about a declining local economy were among the biggest concerns in Porirura. Photo / Google
Crime, safety and perceptions about a declining local economy were among the biggest concerns in Porirura. Photo / Google

PORIRUA CITY

Porirua residents described the suburb, 30 minutes out of Wellington proper, as one "big family" that had its successes even in the face of numerous challenges.

One youth worker said despite how many outside Porirua viewed it, there was beauty within it and among its people.

"I think people have ambition too, things are tough here, but people still aim high ... small community but has All Blacks ... world-famous barbershop quartets.

The biggest level of concern among residents was around issues of crime and safety, with 37 per cent reporting it was a worry. One spoke of how gangs were a normal part of the suburb life, while others reflected on the frequent use of drugs such as methamphetamine and synthetics.

The local economy, or lack thereof, was also a concern for 27 per cent of residents, and was reflected in the vacant shops, buildings and lack of job opportunities.

As for the future the people there hoped outsiders would see Porirua in a more positive light, that the homeless would be housed, for more community events and initiatives, such as a local drug and alcohol centre to reduce issues of crime and safety.

The good
Community: 65 per cent
Turangawaewae [a place to stand, to feel connected to]: 15 per cent
Proximity: 10 per cent
Environment: 10 per cent

The bad
Crime and Safety: 37 per cent
Local economy: 27 per cent
Youth and Children: 23 per cent
Environment: 13 per cent

The hopes and dreams
Local economy: 47 per cent
Services: 22 per cent
Housing: 12 per cent
Crime and Safety: 11 per cent
Change image: 8 per cent