Skip to main content


Participants considered that an increase in public communications via social media meant that the elderly population missed out on information:

"Some of our older people wouldn't have a clue what you’re talking about with social media. Unless they can get somebody with a phone call on their cell phone they can't text, so they miss out. Whereas a messenger group or a WhatsApp group, you can just be a passenger, and follow what’s going on and pick up on something."

There were mixed views about whether the community was socially connected. Some thought that those who were not socially connected within the community were, perhaps, that way by choice:

"There are definitely people who fall through the gaps. For example (redacted, personal name). Back up this way, (redacted, personal name), I don't know if they know anybody in the village. I only know of them because I talk to everybody. I have a dog and people will talk to you if you've got a dog."
"The opportunity is there to connect if you want to. There's Market Day. Or if you're involved in the school. Like, the school makes it easy. If you want to. But we do have people who come along and isolate themselves. Don't want to get involved."
"Primary schools so often are (a place for social connection) in a community like this. You often hear people say, when you've got kids at primary school you know everything that's going on in the village but as soon as you leave that, you miss out. I don't have any association with the school at all and so, you know… someone will talk about things that are happening and I didn't know about that."

It was felt that there were a good number of community groups and activities in which residents could participate:

"And ORIS is good for getting people along to a working bee, and Ōwhango Alive, they trap pests. There are quite a few organisations like that."
"We have the community mid-winter dinner. We could do that more often. I don’t see why it couldn’t be once a quarter. "

The rural, peaceful lifestyle was particularly valued by residents of Ohura.

"You’re walking down a dusty road on a summer’s day with your grandchild’s hand in yours, and you just think, “Wow!”"
"It’s like when two cars pull up to each other in a street in Ōwhango and they’re having a conversation. And a car pulls up, and these guys are having a conversation and the car just waits patiently. Because they know they’re having a conversation and naturally they will move on! "

The local café was noted as a highlight that brought visitors to the village:

"People come to this café not because it’s the closest one, but because it’s the best one. People will drive through Taumarunui for this café."

The local pub remained open for business, but only on a Friday.

"It’s the pub. It’s better if you go a bit later."
"I can be a bit intimidating."
"It’s a place for some people to congregate, for some members of the community to meet. If you don’t mind a bit of swearing."
" Fish and chips are nice, it’s generally the farmers that go there."
"Yeah, it’s alright."

Some participants felt that the community had a lack of young adults because of people moving away for high school education, though others disagreed:

"Our profile is like Taumarunui, lots of old people very few young families, lots of really young people. But it's probably top heavy with the older people."
"I think it's changed. There’s lots of young families started at the school."
"Young kids. People are moving in to be with their families."
"The school roles have decreased over the whole district."
"It used to be 20,000 people in the whole district, now it's less than 16? Why is that? It's because if I were to live in Hamilton. Let's pick a medium sized town. We wouldn't be having these conversations. The hospital is right there. I've got a choice of all those schools. I got a choice of public transport; I've got everything laid on."

In terms of matters relating to crime or disorder, participants felt that although incidents occurred, they did not seem to be highly regular or serious, and generally people felt safe.

"I’m concerned about vandalism. People who turn up in the weekends and do wheelies on the domain."
"I had one of our new rhodo’s just smacked in a couple of weeks ago. By a human. They’d obviously just put their boot right in the middle of it. It won’t survive. I was a bit gutted about that but it’s the first time that something like that’s happened. That any damage has been done with any of the planting, so fingers crossed it doesn’t happen again."
"There’s a bit of a crime spree going on at the moment."
"A crime spree? Really?"
"We got burgled a few weeks ago at (redacted)"
"There was a guy driving around, sussing out properties."
"I don't think it's a regular problem. There are always people driving around. Some are looking at properties with their tongues out hoping that they can buy something. Some are casing the joint. But if someone's casing the joint a message will go out on What's App saying, "Have you seen this such and such around?""
"Yeah, I feel like someone would notice if there was someone up our road, it's that kind of community that I think someone would notice."
"You wouldn’t leave your four-wheeler out overnight. You’d lock it away. There’s stories of firewood being stolen. But if somebody steals my firewood then they probably needed it. Big deal."
"There was a house set alight down the road about three or four months ago. It was abandoned and vandalised quite badly inside. Windows were smashed out. I’d noticed windows getting broken, broken, broken."
"I feel I actually, being by myself, I actually feel very safe here. I have lovely neighbours. If one neighbour hasn't seen me for a few days I get a phone call, are you alright? Haven't seen you around for two or three days. And I think wow, this is good isn't it."
"It feels pretty safe."

Participants had varying views about who was responsible for disorder and crime in the area:

"It’s visitors, or holiday homeowners. People who stay at the pub, they have 16 rooms, or 14 rooms."
"I was led to believe that a lot of the damage in the domain was due to local youth."

Relatedly, the matter of general use and management of the domain was discussed:

"That's something the Council could do. We want to somehow get that whole domain fenced off with ... and locked gates. But it's a massive job, hugely expensive."
"Bollards around the driveway. A sealed parking area instead of the mud pit."
"It's used for athletics day, cross country. Big events. The T42 every year."
"Motorcaravans might come there a couple of times a year."
"We would like to see it being used more because it is a wonderful facility. We're so lucky to have that domain. It is beautiful. We need to... I think we can't have holiday homes parking there at the moment for some reason, I’m not sure why… we don't have resource consent for motorhomes to stay overnight?"
"Secondary schools used to come for camps and they would use the domain for their games."
"That still happens."
"There is a building down there, the pavilion, and people hire it for birthday parties and family reunions."
"This (the hall) and the pavilion are a solution and a problem. The hall is on DOC land, administered by the Council, and run and funded by ORIS. So the Council has probably assumed ownership of the pavilion, it was probably built by volunteers. And now ORIS and Ōwhango Alive use it on a regular basis. So what happens when something needs to be changed? You have to ask permission all the time. I think it’s convoluted."

Drug use in the community was considered present, though not particularly visible:

"I find you don’t see it. It’s like an invisible thing."
"It’s more visible in town."
"A lot more visible in town."
"But I think it’s everywhere. It’s hard to know. "

In 2020, participants expressed considerable concern about traffic, in particular speeding cars and trucks using air brakes along the State Highway. Vehicles stopping to use the toilet were considered disruptive to the peace and amenity of the town. This was not raised as a significant issue of concern in 2020, though participants did note that it would be preferable to start the 70km area further South. Similarly, lines and electricity charges were not raised as a key concern in Ōwhango in 2023 as it was in 2020.

Ōwhango’s biggest challenges

  • -Quality of high school education available locally.
  • -Delays or lack of emergency health care or care for serious health needs.
  • -Enhancing and building more sense of community and connecting people.

Best things about Ōwhango

  • -People get along with each other, they’re friendly.
  • -The primary school.
  • -Sense of community.
  • -Safety.
Share this

Share this page