Everybody needs good neighbours!

11 December 2015

Getting to know your neighbours will be a whole lot easier for Wellingtonians with 27 events across the city receiving funding to celebrate Neighbours Day Aotearoa 2016 - New Zealand's biggest celebration of neighbourliness - on 19-20 March.

Getting to know your neighbours is a vital part of building community resilience, says Mayor Celia Wade-Brown.

Neighbours Day Aotearoa is a national campaign that aims to get all Kiwis to go one step further in getting to know their neighbours.

Mayor Wade-Brown marked the importance of community resilience by introducing Neighbours Day to Wellington and ensuring Wellington City Council's ongoing support.

"Our neighbours will be the first support in an emergency and friendly streets are safe streets,” she says.

Community organisations were encouraged to apply for a maximum grant of $500 to help organise events such as holding neighbourhood games at a local park, coordinating an inter-generational planting event, or adopting an area in the neighbourhood to tidy and keep clean.

The City Council’s Community, Sport and Recreation committee has approved grants worth $12,195 to fund the 27 events.

Committee Chair Councillor Paul Eagle says when neighbours come together, amazing things can happen. “It doesn’t cost anything to smile, wave and learn your neighbours’ names. Be the kind of neighbour you want to have.”

The events form a key part of the Council’s new social development strategy that is focussed on building strong and successful communities.

“We’re focussed on putting people first by having communities in the driving seat so they get to know their neighbours,” Cr Eagle says.

“Great neighbours make great neighbourhoods. These events are about turning strangers into friends, and every street in Wellington into a fun, friendly, safe and resilient place to live.”

Miramar’s Methodist-Presbyterian Church will open its doors again to the neighbourhood around its busy Hobart Street site. The ‘street party’-themed event will be held in the carpark next to the recently earthquake-strengthened church hall and provide the opportunity for neighbours, retailers and new residents to come together with the church’s congregation, user groups and community leaders.

Event organiser Rebecca Phillips says it’s a highlight on their event calendar with over 200 neighbours contacted to attend their inaugural event last year.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming lots of new people to the neighbourhood – it’s a chance to share important neighbourhood news and we’re looking forward to seeing those neighbours who don’t get out much.

“Last year, a local shop owner brought his penny farthing cycle to the event. Most people had never seen one – it generated lots of stories from the oldies who were able to share their funny experiences of riding it with the kids.”

The theme for Neighbours Day Aotearoa 2016 in Wellington is ‘Growing Neighbourhoods’. Council staff will be at community fairs and festivals over the summer giving away free edible seeds, neighbours cards, #wellynextdoor story postcards and emergency preparedness posters.