Participants felt there was fewer formal opportunities for social connection in the Owhango community than there used to be.
“People these days are busy doing their own thing. When I first came here there was the chopping club – that was huge, tennis club, this club, that club bowls, the horses, we had everything. I think there’s no people running them now.”
“People just don’t pick up the reins. But then again, I had someone approach me about doing the community garden and I think it’s a brilliant idea but they were approaching me to run it. And I was like, hold on, I’ve actually got all of this stuff. I think it’s a marvelous idea and I would help if I could.”
“There was a time when we had a rugby team here, and every town in the King Country had a rugby team, everybody played rugby. There was nothing else to do and very few cars, and everyone zooms there and zooms here.”
Conversely, the group identified many new opportunities to socialise as a community.
“On a Friday at the pub. It used to be open every night but now it’s only open one night a week. For quite some time it was closed.”
“We do have the 42nd Traverse. That’s not our event but it does involve the entire community. The usual's go in to help and our community benefits from it. It’s a big event and each group makes a decent amount of money and it brings everyone together a little bit.”
“We have market days, they’re very good. Once a month at the hall on a Sunday. It’s been going about 13 years and it is good, but what happened is it was the only market day around at the time. We had a lot of vendors and a lot of stalls, but then Turangi started one there’s one in Raetihi, so like the Cheese Lady didn’t come this far anymore and stuff like that.”
“The school has things that we get community along to, break up, pet day, that sort of thing.”
“The ratepayer’s society, we have potluck dinners or a BBQ, we try to have them twice a year with view to meeting people who have just moved into the area and things like that. Because say for example in a 12 month period you have 5 or 6 properties change hand, collectively that’s quite a lot of people and we are getting people coming into the place and it takes a long time to actually get to know them so we do try to bridge that gap.”
“The market works really well for that (meeting new people), people will turn up and you start chatting to each other and learn about each other. Then there’s bowls over winter and badminton.”
“If they’ve got kids quite often parents will meet up with each other.”
“The café’s a big meeting place, it’s quite social.”
Some thought that isolation was not a problem in the community. It was considered that most people knew each other and some people choose to live a quieter social life than others.
“That’s why I live here, because I want to live a quiet life.”
“Everybody is friendly, but then it’s a matter of people getting involved in the community. People get too busy with their own stuff. You know, great people, there’s nothing wrong. There’s no barrier it’s just who they are and what they do.”
Some participants were concerned about the future of the local transfer station.
“I’ve heard it’s closing down. It’s open limited hours and everyone makes an effort to go there and drop off their rubbish. And we were told we are going to have to throw it in a hole on the farm. And I don’t want that. I make a huge effort to recycle. It’s only a rumour I’ve heard but it would be interesting to know if it’s true or not. If the transfer station closes then we take it into town or have a roadside pickup, and that would cost as much as administering a transfer station.”
Drugs and alcohol was not seen as a ‘big’ issue in the community but present and concerning never-the-less.
“Not like other areas. But it’s like mental health, there’s no help, nothing.”
“People know it’s around (drugs) and it is there and you hear of a couple of episodes in the village but as a general rule it doesn’t affect the everyday running of the village or the school.”
“You see the helicopters over the bush, but what they’re doing and what they’re getting is nothing compared to meth. The cost has come down. It used to be like $250 for whatever they buy, I don’t know, a gram, and now its $40. It’s come down that much… But it still costs a lot and it costs everything they’ve got – their food money, their rent money, everything.”
Crime or social dysfunction were not considered to be significant or problematic in Owhango.
“It’s pretty good at the moment. From time to time there’s been a few families who have impacted on things at the time, but they’re gone.”
“We get the odd hoons in their cars and that’s about it.”
Traffic, in particular speeding cars and trucks using air brakes and stopping to use the toilet was considered disruptive to the peace and amenity of the town.
“I think they should have a lower speed limit in Owhango altogether. Nobody does 70. They all go so fast and there’s children crossing on their own and there’s no pedestrian crossing”.
“A big problem at the moment is since they put the toilet block up, the trucks at night! You have no idea! And they’re not supposed to use the breaks, the air brakes. The noise!”
“There’s no signs to say they can’t use the air brakes. They’ve taken them down, because I grizzled to them about it to the community board. There were signs, I’m sure. It was part of a drive - there was just too many signs – so they got rid of the brakes sign. A few years ago they had the same problem in National Park and they had a big drive to push them out and now they’re here. And it’s increasing with the volume of traffic. It’s all through the night to three or four in the morning. They’ve got to stop somewhere and now there’s a toilet block they stop here.”
“They leave their engines running of course (when accessing the toilets) at night and sometimes those engines can be running for 15, 20 minutes and this wakes people up. A train comes and goes in a few second and the noise, you can hear them right up here and right down there.”
“My bedroom is right next to the main road and to me it’s something you get used to.”
The cost of electricity, in particular lines charges, was considered to be too high.