A couple living in Kaitāia are leaving for Slovakia next week to help convert two barns into shelters for Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war.
Northland-raised Tamara Jones and her English partner Tristram Shackerley-Bennett are behind the Shelter For Ukraine initiative to transform two barns into temporary housing.
It's a quickly-evolving situation that Jones said "feels very close to home", as the couple has family and friends in both Ukraine and Slovakia.
"It's a difficult situation, we just found out today that the place we're going to be picking up refugees from - the border crossing - there's a military base which is a few miles away from it, which the Russians have started bombing," Shackerley-Bennett said.
"It makes it even more precarious, but it also means it's much more important that we get the people out there."
The couple purchased the barns in Slovakia eight years ago on a whim, with plans to turn them into a skill swap school for adults.
With the help of volunteers, they were slowly transforming the barns until Covid hit and all construction stopped - as well as their jobs as travelling performers.
The couple were planning a tour of New Zealand festivals with their Holy Roller show this summer before red-light restrictions dashed their hopes.
"We didn't know what to do, all our gigs were cancelled, we lost all of our money," said Shackerley-Bennett.
"My mum said, what the hell are you doing? You're not going to sit on your butt, you're going to go to Slovakia and convert the school into a refugee camp."
The two 27-metre-long barns are situated on half an acre (.2 hectares) of land in the rural village of Nemcinany, Slovakia, five hours from the Ukrainian border.
"The village that we're going to is not that different from Northland itself. It's really green, lush, everybody is really friendly," said Jones.
"So although it's on the other side of the world, it kind of feels a bit like a slice of home."
Despite the unexpected circumstances of the war, the couple insist that the new purpose for their barns isn't far from their goals anyway.
"That's exactly why we built the school in the first place, to educate people and provide a safe haven," said Shackerley-Bennett.
As well as donations, the couple is calling out to any skilled Northlanders who would like to join them on their journey to help.
"If there's anyone that's skilled that wants to come out and come and work in Slovakia, the fund we've got together - it's increasing every day. So it may be that if we've got people who are highly skilled carpenters or window fitters or anyone that can work on housing, could potentially come out and work with us and do a stint over there."
Their friend, Auckland lawyer Sam Moore, helped organise a Givealittle page and a crew to support the endeavour.
"Suddenly we were in campaign headquarters surrounded by professional people," Shackerley-Bennett said.
The couple aims to take in 40 refugees - but it's not been a simple process.
Shackerley-Bennett described how there's been an increase in human trafficking as a result of the war, so the couple has had to be careful who they communicate with.
"There's a real good team here in New Zealand that is helping find information and helping to get people on the ground and the same in Slovakia, we've got a really good community over there."
The couple leaves for Slovakia on March 23 - a trip that will take around 30 hours and three flights to complete.
"It's going to be a long journey," said Jones.