Jodi Manuel says she's not a `what if?' person.
So when she began wondering what might happen if she had a place for young people to come, where they could learn new behaviours and see those behaviours in action around them, she decided to do something about it.
She set up Apopo, a drop-in community centre for young people in Taupo which offers a place where they can study, play, talk, be with others and just be themselves.
And, despite the fact she doesn't get a bean from central or local government and funding is a constant struggle, Apopo is a success.
Jodi, known to the young people as `Aunty' or `Mama Jodes', is the practice leader at Apopo but she describes her role as more like that of a youth worker.
She was working as a drug and alcohol counsellor trying to help young people, most of whom had come to her via the courts, when she decided to start Apopo.
``I found an hour a week counselling didn't make much difference to them [youths]... I always used to think, `I wonder if you had a house where you could offer all of that?'''
Jodi decided to pursue her vision.
``There was nothing to lose and I wasn't happy where I was. I felt that there was more that could have been done.''
She says the name Apopo (meaning tomorrow) was chosen because Apopo is ``all about tomorrows'' and giving people hope.
Apopo first opened its doors in Spa Rd in October 2010 and moved to its present home in the cottage next to Paetiki SuperValue in April with help from the Taupo District Council.
Funding is always a problem. This means that rent, power and Jodi and part-time youth worker Sheri Trethowen's wages (more often than not, Jodi goes unpaid if there's not enough money) all comes from grants or donations from places like Vodafone, BayTrust, the Lotteries Commission and Waiora Community Trust. Taupo Foodbank sees to it that Apopo's cupboards are never empty. But Jodi says although sustainable ongoing funding would be nice, she's not in it for the money.
``It's not a job for me, it's a way of life.''
At Apopo, the youths can access social services or sometimes Jodi or Sheri will just advocate on their behalf. They may also work with the wider family.
``What we aim to provide them is a home away from home for those who want it,'' says Jodi. ``And they come for all different reaons. Some just come for a coffee, some come to hang out. That's the great thing.''
Now Jodi has between 20 and 25 young people come through Apopo each day and she has around 300 on her database who have been to Apopo over the last two years.
It is normally open from 9am and closes at 5pm so that Jodi can get home to her four daughters. There is a living room with pool table, a couch and Playstation, a well-stocked kitchen and sunny back yard with vegetable gardens and a garage that's about to be converted to a gym. Upstairs there is an art room, a quiet room where Correspondence School students can work and a bedroom which doubles as emergency youth accommodation and a temporary gym. Jodi says there's always something going on and that's part of the attraction.
``We have a lot of fun and a lot of laughs and some of them don't have the nicest home environment. That's part of it. A lot of them will describe it as a safe place to go. They're able to be themselves here.''
That means that whatever happens outside Apopo is not brought inside. Promoting gang colours or intimidating others is not on.
``We don't have any trouble here. ``They all know it's just absolutely not tolerated.''
The youths at Apopo also contribute to their local community, collecting for Taupo Foodbank during the annual food drive last month, and making mosiacs to sell at the Paetiki twilight markets, participating in the Graffiato street art festival and acting as stretcher bearers during the Oceania soccer tournament in Taupo.
One of them, Rogue Karaitiana, 17, says she comes to Apopo ``to let loose'' and to talk to Jodi about her problems over a coffee. She says being at Apopo keeps her out of trouble and all the youths listen to what Jodi tells them. ``We're too scared not to!''
Another young woman says Apopo has changed her.
``Before I got to Apopo I was a really naughty girl. I never went to school, I was doing drugs, I was an alcoholic and I was getting into a lot of trouble.
``If it wasn't for Jodi and Apopo I wouldn't have a safe place to go to.''
The parents of another teenager at Apopo say the change in their daughter since she began attending has been amazing. They describe it as ``a haven'' and a crucial service for marginalised youth.