A national campaign encouraging people to get to know their neighbours now has a local face.
Annual initiative Neighbours Day Aotearoa began in 2009, and this year runs from March 20 to 30.
Duntroon woman Jan Keeling said she initially signed up to be the regional “activator” because she was already heavily involved in trying to bring her community together and create connection, and was keen to collaborate with other like-minded people.
“I saw it advertised . . . and I thought ‘I do that anyway’, but I’m always keen to learn more about how other people do it,” Mrs Keeling said.
“My role is not to organise events, it is to promote the concept of organising events to meet your neighbours.”
It is a collaborative campaign organised and supported by Lifewise, Inspiring Communities, Christchurch Methodist Mission, New Zealand Red Cross, Neighbourhood Support New Zealand, Kainga Ora and Auckland Council.
The theme for this year was The Great Plant Swap, encouraging people to swap seeds, gift a plant to a neighbour, or join their local community garden. Other suggestions included hosting an event – big or small – or leaving a note for your neighbours online.
“It’s almost like little inspirational messages . . . seeing them when they come up on Facebook is quite cool, to see what other people say about their neighbours.”
People were encouraged to visit the Neighbours Day website for other ideas on how to become involved in the initiative.
Mrs Keeling said people did not necessarily need to organise anything special, but events that were already happening within the community could be registered on the website.
“It’s promoting the act of getting to meet your neighbours.
“It’s an excuse to go meet your neighbour and make yourself known.”
The day was also to acknowledge groups that were already involved in their communities, and encouraging people to join those groups and the “concept of community”.
“Oamaru has so many good community groups, but not everyone knows about them. So it’s about making connections, and promoting there’s a nationwide event happening. That’s a week where it’s going to be promoted a lot, and if you’re going to have those events do it during that time.
“It doesn’t have to be a big event, it just might be your normal weekly event, and talking about how people can meet their neighbours, or how they go about things encouraging community.”
“It’s still in the early stages. It’s not until March, but people need to be thinking ahead. If they want to organise a little street thing . . . even if it’s doing something like setting up a database of people in your street.”jordan SneakersNike