Everybody needs good neighbours
14 February 2013
Everybody needs good neighbours
Turning strangers into neighbours and streets into neighbourhoods, Neighbours Day Aotearoa is back for the third year as a national celebration of neighbourliness.
Neighbours Day Aotearoa (NDA) on the 23-24 March will give all Kiwis a great opportunity to connect with others in their immediate neighbourhood. This year organisers predict it will be bigger than ever.
Over the weekend, thousands of neighbours all around the country will gather together to get to know each other, and forge connections and support systems that will continue to enrich their lives long after the weekend has ended.
“Fostering neighbourliness creates communities that are stronger and more resilient,” says Mental Health Foundation chief executive Judi Clements. “Connecting is one of the ways that we can all enhance our own mental health and wellbeing.”
A shining example of neighbourly spirit inspired by NDA is Victoria Dawson-Wheeler, a 32 year-old from Arch Hill, Auckland, won the Neighbours Day Aotearoa story competition in 2012.
Victoria organised a big breakfast for her entire neighbourhood, asking local businesses to participate by donating enough coffee, muffins, and bacon for everyone who came along.
She also created a dynamic gift-swap exercise called ‘Love thy neighbour’ where each participant interacted with at least two other households in the neighbourhood.
It was a roaring success. “I was blown away by the generosity and thoughtfulness of everyone involved,” she says. “It’s so hard to meet people, nobody wants to be the first to say ‘hi,’ but once you’re past that it’s great!”
Since Neighbours Day, Arch Hill has become known for its community-mindedness. When babies are born, people drop by with food and clothes for the new parents. When a neighbour is in trouble, people are now much more likely to lend a hand.
“These small but significant changes in neighbourhoods are what Neighbours Day Aotearoa is all about. More and more of this happening right around the country will mean neighbourliness is increasing in every community. We’re already starting to see this movement grow,” says John McCarthy, General Manager of Lifewise.
With better connected streets, apartment dwellings, neighbourhoods, and more everyday neighbourliness, New Zealand communities will be stronger and more able to tackle many of the social concerns that exist in Aotearoa.
Many local councils are on board, and NDA activities between neighbours are being organised all around the country.
The Neighbours Day website (www.neighboursday.org.nz) features NDA success stories to help inspire New Zealanders to participate in Neighbours Day. Participants who sign up through the website will be sent a resource pack with lots of great ideas to organise an NDA celebration that works for their neighbourhood. The campaign will also use Facebook to connect with Kiwis and share NDA messages, ideas, and inspiration.
Neighbours Day Aotearoa is a joint initiative of Lifewise, The Mental Health Foundation, Inspiring Communities, and Neighbourhood Support.