When asked what they would say if they could talk to the Prime Minister about their community, people in six communities raised serious concerns about drugs, housing, lack of mental health services and economic problems that were holding back their neighbourhoods.
The views raised during on-street interviews with people in Kaitaia, Whangarei, Manurewa, New Plymouth, Hornby and Timaru, for the Salvation Army’s second annual State of Our Communities report. The report, launched today, tells the story of life in these communities through the words of the people who live there.
It is a story where people have clear aspirations to live in stable, healthy neighbourhoods, but they are concerned that social problems will prevent the realisation of their hope, report author Ronji Tanielu says.
Without local and national government assistance these communities will continue to decline and become more socially and economically at risk, he says.
“What we hear from this report is loud and clear—to be strong communities requires more housing, a stronger effort to rid neighbourhoods of drug abuse and a more consultative approach when Government provides developments, housing, infrastructure and services so meeting the broad needs of the community.”
Strong local communities are needed to ensure a stronger and healthier Aotearoa New Zealand, Mr Tanielu says.
“We found people who spoke in a raw, real way about critical issues facing their communities. People were proud of their location, size, natural environment and multiculturalism. These are communities that are taking responsibility for acting to change the social problems they face. However, this is harder when the media continually paints them in a bad light, their community infrastructure is aging and worn out, and Government help is often too little too late, uncoordinated and variable when it arrives.”
The report’s findings will be shared with the Government and The Salvation Army will continue to work cooperatively to help the Government understand how it can better identify and deliver assistance to these communities.