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Ko Mākeo te maunga, Ko Waiaua te awa, Ko Omarumutu te marae, Ko Tutāmure te whare tipuna, Ko Ngati Ruatakenga te hapū, Ko Whakatohea te iwi.

Is iad Aillte an Mhothair imeall na talún. Sreabhann abhainn Fergus leis an saol. Is é Inis an baile as a dtagann mo theaghlach. Is é Contae an Chláir an ceantar ina gcónaíonn mo theaghlach. Is í Éire an talamh ar a luíonn mé mo chosa.

Having recently returned after living away for nearly three decades, I have returned to the place I like to call home, Opotiki. Whilst living overseas, people would ask me, "where are you from?" I would respond and say, "Home is a place called Opotiki on the North East Coast of the North Island of New Zealand". When living in London, most people that ask want to know which island in New Zealand one comes from. So it is best to be as specific as possible.

Although I have lived in a number of cities in New Zealand and around the world, Ōpōtiki, New Zealand, is the place I call home. Ōpōtiki is home because it is where many of my whānau live, it is my Turangawaewae, and although I have come and gone over the years, it is where I feel most grounded and centred. Covid-19 and the immense amount of goodwill in our country and local community have taught me a number of things recently. Namely, that with the right support and collective approach, members of our Ōpōtiki community are willing to draw on and harness the power of our most valuable assets (our people) to forge new ways of supporting each other, and the most vulnerable members of our community. And, we are ALL better for doing this.

Intellectually, with a background in public health, I have ‘known’ this. But it has taken Covid-19 and working in my home community to ‘feel’ this and reconnect with my passions which are: Working in communities to identify, activate and build untapped social capital; And, ensuring that institutions (local government, schools, democratic institutions et) and local services are co-designed, co-developed and co-delivered around the needs, hopes and aspirations of whānau and people for which they are intended to serve and benefit.

By way of my employment background, until recently I ran my own public health consultancy company in London. I have worked in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors delivering change in government health care commissioning / funding; health provider business and strategy development and operations management; evidence-based advocacy / policy advice to local and national governments; and corporate social responsibility. I have a keen interest in human rights and social justice issues having been involved in campaigns such as marriage equality, improving access for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for men-who-have-sex-with-men and increased funding for the prevention and minimisation of gambling harm. Currently, I am involved in teaching and the delivery of university courses on non-communicable disease and developed-world health systems.

Working with talented and committed Trustees and Kaimahi, I am privileged to be the Chair of KŌ Kollective Trust. It is through the collective apsiration and action of every person that walks through our door that we - as KŌ Kollective Trust - seek to be of service and benefit to, our Ōpōtiki community.

He kōrero e pā ana i tōku ngakau:

Sing like no one is listening, love like you never been hurt, dance like no one is watching and live like it is heaven on earth. -- Mark Twain

To Life! L'Chaim!

Shannon Hanrahan

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