Since the death of lawyer Charles Little last year, non-government organisation Te Kainga O Pa Taunga director Mereana Taikoko says no-one has stepped into the breach to fill the void.
The local branch of Alcoholics Anonymous started in 2005 and Taikoko says it was founded with the goal of teaching people about the dangers of alcohol and how to drink responsibly.
“We encouraged people who have problems to get some help, to reach out. We had to not only set up a support group, but also give them a place to go.”
Little and a local who has since moved back to Mangaia were among those first trained to take on a leadership role.
Taikoko there seemed to have been very few who had reached a stage of wanting to help others, putting a difficult burden on Little.
“It got very hard for Charles, because he was the only one running the meetings.”
Taikoko stressed that she did not want just one person to take over, but would prefer a group took turns at running meetings, which would lessen the strain on everyone involved.
“I think that was the problem, because it became too much of a burden for people and there was nobody there to share the load.
“With a group there isn’t someone in charge because the responsibility is shared. And then we can start helping people again, even if they are only sober for one day.”
She said that the problem was made worse by the depopulation issue, as there were fewer people available to help.