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Neighbours Day Aotearoa: Connecting Communities Via Neighbours Online Aotearoa

Neighbours Day Aotearoa 2020 has faced adversity with the Aotearoa moving to level 4 lockdown on the eve of the start of Neighbours Day. The organisers did an eleventh hour change and held: 10 Days, 10 Ways, A Neighbours Day Zoom Festival. Aimed at combating loneliness and isolation, increasing connection and building capacity by modelling how to hold online events and providing a platform for people to connect and feel part of an online community. You can watch a highlights video here.

There has been a lot of research done around better outcomes for people’s mental health and wellbeing when they feel more connected with their neighbours. The premise behind Neighbours Day Aotearoa is that every day ‘neighbourliness’ can contribute to enhancing resilience and wellbeing, especially to vulnerable groups in our society. This was highlighted during COVID-19 as while the implications of the pandemic and the restrictions around large groups of people meeting impacted on registrations and while many groups were forced to cancel their events others thought more creatively and held events early or created online events. Some reported that while their events were cancelled the work they had done connecting with neighbours helped them when lockdown began and they wanted to check on vulnerable neighbours.

The success of the Neighbours Day Zoom Festival, as it continues to be shared and people have contacted wanting more or offering to host an event, has led to organisers continuing with Neighbour Online Aotearoa. This will run online from the 18th May to the 10th June 2020. They are currently gathering votes as to what people would like to see and asking for recommendations for people to host Zooms, this can be seen here. The intention is to share stories and skills across Aotearoa, to help people connect, especially those who are elderly or vulnerable and need to remain in lockdown for longer. They are also wanting to build capacity and increase people’s online skills. Part of hosting an event for neighbours Online Aotearoa, includes being trained in hosting a Zoom and upskilling people’s tech skills.

Just as Neighbours Day Aotearoa encourages year-round activities, Neighbours Online Aotearoa will be encouraging people to hold their own Zooms and stay connected during all the lockdown levels and being mindful of those who need to stay in lockdown due to underlying health issues.

Started in 2009, Neighbours Day Aotearoa is a collaborative campaign organised and supported by Lifewise, Inspiring Communities, The Mental Health Foundation, Christchurch Methodist Mission, New Zealand Red Cross, Neighbourhood Support New Zealand, Auckland Council and Kainga Ora

Interviews are available with local coordinators Tāwhana Chadwick (Wellington and Hastings ), Cissy Rock (Auckland and Northland) and Sam Orchard (Wellington). Bios below.

For more info go to: https://www.neighboursday.org.nz/

ORGANISER BIOS:

Tāwhana Chadwick (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Tūwharetoa) is from Heretaunga but lives in Naenae, Te Whanganui-a-Tara. As a young child Tāwhana and his siblings were the first of their whānau to re-enter Māori immersion education by way of the Kohanga Reo, Kura Kaupapa, Wharekura movement, following from two generations of language alienation. Tāwhana continues the legacy of those before him by teaching Te Reo Māori, sharing his understanding of Mātauranga Māori and co-facilitating Tiriti workshops.

Cissy Rock is committed to working alongside others, her approach is collaborative, dedicated and passionate. Cissy addresses symptoms of inclusion, exclusion and patronization, working with the dynamics of systems in ways that develop and build cohesion. With over 15 years’ experience working alongside communities and with Local Government, integrity is at the heart of her work.

Sam Orchard is committed to building a world where our many differences and complexities are celebrated. He writes comics, essays and children’s books, creates animated videos, podcasts, resources and social media campaigns with this aim. Sam’s recent activism projects include 'We Are Beneficiaries' and 'Out Loud Aotearoa'. As part of these he organized and engaged other artists and writers to drive social change in New Zealand. These projects gained international attention across social media and news sites, amplifying viewpoints which are often missing from public discourse.

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