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Participants described the areas in which they lived as often characterised by a lack of neighbours and empty neighbourhoods as a result of the amount of holiday homes:

"The house will sit there 11 months of the year, empty."
"That’s all my neighbours."
"In the (Redacted) street in the houses there, I was the only person that resided in that entire street for over six months."

People in Ohakune were concerned about gangs in the town, and about social or emergency housing communities:

"It’s quite rough, a lot of gang affiliation. There’s violence and breaking everything."
"So yeah, all the locals are just cramming in down at the motel. And it's just... has any one ever been down there? It's pretty bad. Rotorua is pretty bad but it's getting pretty bad down there and it's because, it's just, I wouldn't say it's a group of people who are just... you know they're on the dole, there's heaps of kids, loud, rowdy neighbours so no one wants to rent to them and they've all been put in this place and now they're all friends, which is great, but, the for kids in that little community... it's so toxic. If they were in their own space they might have a chance by themselves."
"There was a gang in (redacted) and everyone in the street was getting affected. The kids were never at school, running amok. Stealing stuff, breaking things. "
"Hopefully the new development at the Carrot Park will help and won’t turn into Slumville.

Throughout the discussion, descriptions of a division between those more permanent versus the transient population was expressed in that a lot of residents, workers, and professionals ‘came and went’:

"The challenge is you have to earn your place here, both from a fitting in to the community, but also from a resilience perspective. Because we all know that the homes are generally cold and damp, but especially from an employment factor. You have to get creative in order to live here. Really creative. It can't be taken for granted and hence why there is, even at this table, it's a really neat thing to note that everyone qualified themselves by how long they've been here because they've survived that longer than you. Even at the pub, you hear them qualifying, I've done five seasons. "
"I think when you say, justifying how long people have lived here, I think it’s saying; this is where my roots are now. I lived in Auckland less time than I’ve lived here. So now, this is where my roots are, where my kids roots are."
"If you’ve got whānau that have got generations here, they tend to stay here because that’s where their whānau is. And a lot of young people won’t leave the region because that’s where their whānau is. Or if they leave they’ll come back. This is where all of their whānau live, yeah."

Participants spoke fondly of the Carrot Park as a place for children to play and families to socialise. However, it was noted that there could be more recreational features for older children and teenagers:

"The Carrot Park looks amazing. A lot of tourists go there and families use it. But it’s for younger ones and there’s nothing for teenagers."
"There's The Mall. Apparently, it's called The Mall."
"The Mall, the transfer station is called The Mall."
"There's Christie Park with the netball or basketball court, I’m not too sure. But that looks terrible."
"That definitely needs resurfacing. It needs a skater thing."
"Maybe just something for the older kids. And do the hoops up. But then in saying that they done that in Raetihi and it got smashed."
"It is coming, they have submitted it."
"But is it for older?"
"It's going to be for more... active kids."
"It is coming, but is it enough?"
"I know that a lot of local kids, families at the college, it's basketball. They would stay at the basketball courts like, all day. But because there's, the basketball court here is absolutely terrible, they're just going to sit down there and vape."
"That brings up a great point, to me, it goes back to revitalisation, in order to help with mental health, jobs, people coming in to the area, if we keep things looking dull, dark and dingy. And with the ability to drive your car into the middle of the basketball court, because, you know, that's a great parking place?! Then pardon my language, but whose is going to give a shit if you throw your rubbish? "
"Why don't the kids just go for a walk in the bush? Or ride their bikes or kick some goals? Things like that? It's just a different age. When I grew up we didn't get taken anywhere, we'd get on our bikes. We didn't care. We'd go kick goals all day. We didn't have malls so we didn't hang out at malls."
"There’s kids that hang out in the park by the I-site but there’s nothing there for them. So they’re just sitting there on top of the… which discourages other kids, family from using the park which it’s actually for."

Biggest challenges for Ohakune:

  • Access to health and social services.
  • Health and wellbeing of young people.
  • Not knowing what’s available or what the community is entitled to.
  • Lack of stable, long-term, well-paid jobs with potential for career progression.

Best things about Ohakune:

  • Being able to walk everywhere.
  • Natural environment: good water, fresh air, tranquility.
  • A community who cares about each other
  • Balancing development with maintenance of the natural environment and small-town feel.
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