Our Wellington

News | 10 December 2020

Neighbours Day sparks special connections

Friends were made and fun was had at the Newtown Apartments Neighbours Day, which saw more than 200 people turn out to build connections with others in their community.

Three children named Amelia, 5, Libby, 6, and Makeda, 5, sitting in a row on wooden steps holding sausage sizzles with adults and a barbecue behind them.

Amelia, 5, Libby, 6, and Makeda, 5, had a great time at the Newtown Apartments Neighbours Day.

The successful event was held on a sunny day last Saturday (5 December), with five-year-old Makeda so excited she was up, dressed and ready to go at 6am.

“Today is the best because we can play and eat in the sunshine,” Makeda said on the day.

There were games, activities, and sporty play for all ages, as well as music and food at Newtown Park, and there were even special guests, with some members of the Hurricanes and Pulse teams giving out flags and rugby balls and signing autographs.

Makeda’s family moved from Ethiopia to New Zealand three years ago. Her mother, who also has a one-year-old and is studying nursing fulltime, says her life is so busy with study and kids that she rarely gets time to sit back and enjoy the company of friends and family.

“In Ethiopia we played like this all the time so today reminds me of my childhood.”

The Newtown Apartments Neighbours Day was a collaboration between Wellington City Council’s City Housing, Libraries, Community Support, and Parks, Sport, and Recreation teams, along with many other community agencies.

Senior Advisor Community Development Jamie Shackleton says the objective of the Newtown Apartments Neighbours Day was to get the community outdoors and connecting with each other.

“It was also an opportunity for us to meet more residents, as many new families and single people have recently moved in. With more than 200 apartments, it is our largest single housing complex with heaps of families.

“Our goal is to connect and form relationships with residents who are motivated to get involved in the community, and we can help support them to do this. We made some fantastic community and tenant connections that we will be following up with in our ongoing community development work there.”

Customer and Community Project Specialist Peta McMillan says the Neighbours Day event was just one of a cluster of Play Events throughout the city this summer.

“This week is Play Week Aotearoa, a campaign led by Sport NZ and Health Promotion Agency which runs until Sunday 13 December.

“Play Days are about promoting the importance of play every day within our communities. We are using partnerships to create local, playful events to highlight the importance of play in building children and young people’s resilience and wellbeing.

“We look forward to hosting two more play days this year.”

These are Rā Whānau Waitohi, Waitohi’s first Birthday celebrations on Saturday 12 December, and Nairnville’s Whānau Play Day on Sunday 20 December.

Senior Advisor Community Development Jamie Shackleton with a tenant from Newtown Apartments, with people having fun in the background.

Jamie Shackleton and a tenant from Newtown Apartments enjoying Neighbours Day.

Customer and Community Project Specialist Alexi Trenouth says these types of events are important for the city.

“They add vibrancy and excitement for communities that have had fewer opportunities to connect this year. In Wellington our biggest play space is our green network. We encourage all to get outdoors and play locally during Play Week Aotearoa.”

Jamie says the fantastic turnout for the Newtown Apartments Neighbours Day would not have been possible without community and Council partners, tenant performers and volunteer helpers, who all pitched in to make it a great event.

She thanked Tenancy Advisors Kerry McCracken and Bobby Bir, Newtown Community and Cultural Centre, Age Concern, Timebank, Digital Inclusion Alliance Aotearoa, the Ultimate Frisbee Club, Capital Basketball and Capital Wolves Volleyball, and the Council’s Library and Community Support teams.

Jamie also thanked the tenants who organised the traditional Cook Islands and Tongan performances, and the six tenant volunteers who helped with the catering and clean-up efforts and promoted their existing tenant-led groups (creative writing, community cafe, and social English).

“Our plan is for this event to be a start to forming a network of tenant volunteers, partnered with the community agencies and library teams that work in Newtown, supported by our team to run ongoing community building activities that are tenant-led.”