A desire to give a voice to all communities, big or small, has led a Rotorua councillor to a seat on a national advisory committee.
Rotorua District councillor Tania Tapsell has been named deputy chairwoman of the Community Boards Executive Committee, an advisory committee to Local Government New Zealand's national council.
The board represents the country's 110 community boards, supporting and advocating for them while helping build stronger relationships between those boards and their partner councils.
Tapsell represents more than 30 boards across the Waikato, Bay of Plenty and East Coast.
"Community board advocacy is a big part of it. It's really important, it's like grassroots politics and making sure all communities, big or small, are being represented."
Tapsell believed the Rotorua community boards were a positive example of how boards and councils should work together.
"Community boards have a seat on committees and can have a say. In some areas, that's not the case.
"Sometimes we lose the rural voice and it's important their interests are looked after," Tapsell said.
"I love being able to bring that grassroots voice to a national level and fight for the small communities."
Tapsell said community boards played a "critical role" in the community.
"When things go wrong they step up.
"When the Edgecumbe floods happened, the Rangitaiki Community Board members were the first responders and helped navigate everyone. They proved how important community boards are when things go wrong as well as when they are going right."
Tapsell was first elected to the committee in 2017 but was re-elected and named deputy chair this year.
She was proud of what she achieved in her first term and was looking forward to a leadership role in her second term with the committee.
"I was approached to stand for the board as someone who was hardworking and able to deliver big upgrades around the lakes areas ... and also work around freedom camping," she said.
"We encouraged them to responsibly freedom camp and made designated areas for that.
"We're seeing a shift across New Zealand of young people coming in and playing a part in the leadership of the community. It's quite a pleasure to be leading that."
Tapsell is the Rotorua Lakes Council's representative on the Lakes Community Board and said she respected the dedication community board members had to their communities.
"Community boards' members come from a variety of backgrounds but are passionate about community and making positive change."
She said community boards were facing an "infrastructure crisis" in terms of roads and water.
"That's a significant cost. It's a multimillion-dollar problem these small communities can't afford."
Tapsell has been the highest-polling candidate on the Rotorua Lakes Council for the past two elections and surpassed even the mayor in vote numbers in 2019.
Tapsell's popularity increased by 326 votes in the 2019 election, going from 9567 to 9893. Of Rotorua's 21,215 voters, 46 per cent put their faith in 27-year-old Tapsell.
Alexandra Davids, Linwood-Central-Heathcote Community Board
Tania Tapsell, Rotorua Lakes Community Board
Mike Edmonds, Kaikohe-Hokianga Community Board
Marilyn Stevens, Ōtaki Community Board
Mandy Mayhem-Bullock, Waikouaiti Coast Community Board
Graeme Sykes, Inglewood Community Board