Community returns to discuss change

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THE Opotiki community came together again last week, to find solutions to its problems with crime.

The second community meeting organised by Maude Maxwell, the event was held last Thursday in the Opotiki College discovery centre.

“It went really well,” Ms Maxwell said.

With about 80 people in attendance, the evening allowed for community feedback, discussion, and some insight into what had happened since the first meeting in July.

“We briefed those there on what we have been doing behind the scenes,” Ms Maxwell said.

This included setting up neighbourhood support groups with the assistance of police community and family harm district manager Phil Gillbanks.

Ms Maxwell said the groups allow neighbouring residents to connect and support each other through a variety of circumstances.

“It’s not just about protection, it’s about knowing your neighbourhood, especially elderly people,” she said.

“And it’s about having a civil defence plan in place.”

Ms Maxwell said these groups were beginning to pop up around the community since she had been hitting the streets to encourage neighbourhoods to join.

Ms Maxwell said police deputy commissioner Wally Haumaha would be attending the next community meeting to further drive this message home.

Another feature of the night was Te Aho Jordan representing the Opotiki Youth Council.

“She did a brilliant job presenting the youth council,” Ms Maxwell said.

Ms Jordan gave the community a run-down on the newly established youth council, including its plans for the near future.

“I made everyone aware of the progress we’ve made, and invited anyone who would like to be part of that to contact me,” she said.

“We’re still in the process of early planning.”

Ms Jordan said, moving forward, the youth council would be looking to address issues faced by youth, including more activities, community relationships and more. Drug and alcohol abuse was also a big issue that would be addressed.

Ms Jordan said the youth council had been formed as a collaborative effort by members of the community, and would have enrolment forms available around the end of November.

She said youths from 12 to 24 years of age could apply, and adults could express their interest to have some input in the planning meetings leading up to enrolments.

She also said once the youth council was formed, she hoped it would have engagement with the Opotiki District Council moving forward.

Ms Maxwell said the next meeting was planned for within the next four weeks, but a date had not yet been locked in.