It's been a tough few weeks for our community.
Suffering and coping with loss is something we all have to deal with from time to time, but there are many in our community who have taken an emotional pounding in recent weeks as a result of a series of bereavements.
Others I know are facing some serious health challenges. While their prognosis is positive, the journey for them back to health is not going to be an easy one.
I mention all of this because in the middle of all this pain and grief, I have been tremendously encouraged by the wonderful support I have seen being provided for others.
The people who step up in these situations are a source of strength in our community.
They represent something precious that we should nurture and grow.
Which raises a question: what would that growth look like and how might we achieve it?
In the 1980s, a couple of psychologists, David McMillan and David Chavis, turned their minds to this very question and developed a theory that still has currency more than 30 years later.
They described "sense of community" as a feeling of belonging, "a feeling that people matter to one another and to the group; and a shared faith that members' needs will be met through their commitment to be together".
Interestingly, Maori came to the same conclusion many years ago and developed the concept of whanaungatanga. Although community building sounds pretty simple, and it's hard to imagine why anyone would be opposed to it, the process of moving from concept to reality requires all of us all to commit.
I think "commitment" is the key element in the two Daves' definition but also the challenge.
I say that because some people don't like the idea of commitment. Some people run from it.
I remember watching a movie a few years ago about a bunch of people living in a community.
The plot was pretty simple. The interesting bit was the dynamics in all of the relationships.
In one scene, a woman's boyfriend broke off the relationship when he found out that she was pregnant.
When she challenged him over his lack of responsibility, he replied: "You have to understand, I'm going through a selfish phase at the moment."
His response was so pathetically tragic and self-centred you couldn't help but laugh.
Although it's funny in a movie, it ain't funny in real life.
Looping back to where we started, when times get tough, we all have a hope that people will gather around and to the right thing.
Maori have a word for that concept as well - manakitanga.
But if we want that to be our reality, each of us has to think about what our individual contribution to building a sense of community, or whanaungatanga, will look like.
The first step is accepting that we all have a role to play, that we all have some responsibilities to one another and we all need to be willing to commit to that kaupapa (cause).
That is my challenge (wero) to you this week. Next week we'll look at some of the other angles to this idea. In the meantime, hei kona mai.
Inspector Bruce Horne is the Rotorua police area commander