Appointee’s heart in community

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Central Otago’s new community development officer says she is looking forward to getting to know the district ‘‘and all the different communities within it’’.
Dr Nikki Aaron comes to the Central Otago District Council with a range of experience from around the world.
Dr Aaron, who moved to Cromwell in February this year with her partner, said she had been enjoying getting to know the community there, included by managing the Cromwell Resource Centre and doing some work for Connect Cromwell.
She spent the three years until December 2018 working as a community development co-ordinator with South Alive, an urban rejuvenation project led by the community in South Invercargill. One of the big projects she was involved with there was helping establish the Night Food Markets.
Dr Aaron, who is from Canada but has been living in New Zealand for 10 years, gained her PhD in Geography and Religion from the University of Otago, with a focus on development studies.
She said she had always had an interest in community work, in many countries.
Her experiences include working alongside vulnerable war-torn communities in Northern Uganda, where she was involved in helping connect stakeholders to communities in need; to working with sex workers in rural India, where she was researching the impact of government and non-government development initiatives on the community.
Dr Aaron said she was excited about the ‘‘new challenge’’ of ‘‘working with council in the community space’’.
‘‘I’m looking forward to getting to know the district and all the different communities within it. Central Otago is a magical place, and it’s a pleasure to be able to call this place home.’’
Dr Aaron takes over the position from Paula Penno, who is now the council’s community and engagement manager, overseeing the communications and engagement, regional identity and the community development activities of the council.