The Kiwi nurse revealed this week as having been held captive by Isis for five years, has called Ōtaki home for about 20 years.
Local sources say Louisa Akavi has a house close to the township. She was regularly away for long periods on duty overseas with the Red Cross, and tended to keep to herself when she was home.
There’s intense speculation about whether Louisa is still alive. NZ Red Cross revealed on Monday that she had been captured by Isis in Syria in 2013, but this had been kept secret. Both the New Zealand Government and Red Cross knew of her capture, but preferred to keep it quiet for her safety.
That changed when the Isis caliphate collapsed recently across Syria and Iraq.
“Louisa is a valued member of the Red Cross whānau,” Red Cross secretary general Niamh Lawless said. “She is highly skilled, compassionate and resilient. A friend, a colleague and mentor.”
She has dedicated her life to those affected by war and violence, and she went to Syria because people needed her. She wanted to use her skills to make a difference for some of the world’s most vulnerable people.”