Women are wonderful on Waiheke Island
Niki Schuck didn't know anyone when she moved to Waiheke five years ago.
But now Schuck has many local friends after she and real estate agent Jean Clark founded a social group specifically for women.
"It came about because I was talking to a friend, saying I'd been here three years but didn't seem to bump into people I knew," Schuck said.
"She'd been on the island a year longer than me and had the same thing."
The group's first event was in June 2015 and attracted 23 women of all ages - from 30 to 75.
Now they regularly attract more than 60 women and have over 300 women on their database.
Wonderful Waiheke Women, or W3 as it is known, is free to join and members receive newsletters about events being planned or ideas for the future.
Events usually take the form of wine and dinner or nibbles at vineyards, with female speakers who are inspiring or motivational.
"We're reliant on vineyards hosting the group if there's 70 of us," Schuck said.
The cost per person is usually around the $35-$40 mark but the group is not-for-profit.
There is usually something happening every six weeks and members can choose what they want to attend.
The next event, in September, will be a fashion show and a walk is planned for October.
Schuck, who has her own PR company, has medical centre practice manager Elli Sumpter helping her organise the group's events.
"I'm the support crew," Sumpter said.
She moved to the island four years ago and, like Schuck, wanted to connect with other women on Waiheke.
Sumpter said according to the 2013 census, over a third of households on Waiheke were people living on their own - a much higher proportion than across Auckland as a whole.
"People who come to W3 say, 'I've lived on the island for 20 years and hardly know anyone here'," she said.
She said W3 was not a business networking group.
Rather, it was about getting women together from all walks of life to learn and inspire each other.
"I always think when women get together, great things happen," Sumpter said.
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