Inaugural Neighbours Day Aotearoa Announced for Last Weekend of March
For immediate release
7 March 2011
Inaugural Neighbours Day Aotearoa announced for last weekend of March
(26 – 27 March 2011)
A group of not-for-profit organisations joined forces in 2010 to create Neighbours Day Aotearoa, to encourage Kiwis to celebrate great neighbourhoods and get to know our neighbours better.
The idea is for young, old, ‘new’ and multi-generational New Zealanders to make time in the last weekend of March to talk and have fun with their next door neighbours – even if it’s for the very first time.
Though the campaign for the last weekend of March has been planned since mid 2010 (following a successful Auckland Neighbours Day in 2009) the organisers now see it as a special opportunity for Kiwi neighbourhoods to join together and contribute to relief appeals for Christchurch.
Although Neighbours Day Aotearoa is about getting the barbeque or hangi ready and saying ‘kia ora’ to our own neighbours, it’s also become about neighbourhoods getting together for Christchurch, says Rebecca Harrington (Lifewise) from the organising team. “We want to join with Kiwis saying ‘Kia kaha Christchurch’ and acknowledge Aotearoa’s strong community spirit, both locally and nationally.”
The team notes that Christchurch has led the way in neighbourliness for some years with a neighbourhood week.
“We’re hearing from people that strong, supportive neighbourhoods is a timely focus for all Kiwis. We hope that in the last weekend of March not only will we all connect more closely with our next door neighbours; but we’ll be part of the ongoing national flow of goodwill, hospitality and generosity to support Christchurch. We’re already seeing examples of neighbourhoods pulling together to fundraise for relief efforts.”
Neighbours Day Aotearoa encourages Kiwis to do three things for the last weekend of March:
1. Go online to www.neighboursday.org.nz for inspiration and practical tools for taking part in Neighbours Day Aotearoa and to ‘sign up’ to show support for the idea.
2. Show neighbourliness where you live – from a simple wave to sharing baking, visiting, barbequing, organising a street party or even a clothes swap.
3. During the celebrations, remember to pass around the hat and contribute to fundraising efforts for Christchurch.
A national grass roots campaign
The team, from LIFEWISE, Inspiring Communities and Methodist Missions Aotearoa, describes Neighbours Day Aotearoa as ‘a community driven social marketing campaign’, which it hopes will grow into a movement. It’s a small team with a big vision and with limited money to spend on publicity, but already is seeing a ground swell of support for the campaign.
The word is being spread at the “grass roots”, with dozens of community or socially focussed organisations, large and small, and including local Councils, mobilising their networks and encouraging people to get involved. (Councils involved Auckland, Dunedin City, Gisborne District, Invercargill, Palmerston North and Wellington City Councils).
“We see this as something that belongs to all New Zealanders,” says Rebecca, “so it’s great to see it taking off, with so many organisations and individuals celebrating with their neighbourhoods in their own way. The idea behind setting a special time to focus on neighbourhoods is to be a catalyst to building stronger communities for everyday. We hope it will become an annual event as part of our Kiwi culture.”
Burger Wisconsin is encouraging its customers during March to participate in Neighbours Day Aotearoa 2011 and communico has provided the web presence which is central to the campaign. The website is packed with tools, tips, stories, and inspiration to help us all get involved with our neighbours
in our own way. “The website is the hub of the campaign”, says Rebecca, “because this isn’t about one event or one organisation; it’s about people being able to participate in streets and neighbourhoods wherever they are.”
“It’s great to see community and businesses coming together to support the vision. We’re incredibly grateful to Burger Wisconsin and communico for their assistance” says Rebecca. “They understand the potential long-term benefits of this campaign and how it could make a real difference to the quality of life in New Zealand.” The team hopes to confirm another supporter soon.
John McCarthy, General Manager LIFEWISE (www.lifewise.org.nz) says knowing our neighbours is one of the best antidotes to many social concerns, especially the isolation being experienced by both young and older people in New Zealand. “Having a social worker on every street is not the cure for social isolation. Strong, safe, respectful, fun neighbourhoods are what we need more of and that’s what Neighbours Day Aotearoa is all about.”
“Belonging to a positive local community is one of our most basic needs and is what people say is part of being Kiwi but that many say has been lost in recent years. They would like to get back but they just don’t know how to do it. We know that people who know their neighbours feel safer at home, enjoy a greater sense of well being, and feel more able to contribute to their community.”
Mary-Jane Rivers of Inspiring Communities says the communities the organisation is connected to have many inspiring anecdotes of the power of neighbourliness (see www.Inspiringcommunities.org.nz).
“We hope that those who are already great neighbours, or are learning about being more active in their neighbourhoods, will share their stories and ideas and inspire those who wanting to take a first step.”
New Zealand’s very first Neighbours Day was held in Auckland in 2009.
Neighbours Day Aotearoa stems from a successful Auckland Neighbours Day orchestrated by LIFEWISE and supported by Inspiring Communities and others in October 2009. This saw people leaning over the fence to chat, knocking on doors to introduce themselves to neighbours they didn’t know, holding street barbeques and activities, delivering cookies to others in their street, digging gardens, sharing vegetables and lots more.
This all grew from a joint LIFEWISE–Takapuna Methodist Church “Know Your Neighbours Project” led by Rebecca who as a Community Development Worker on the North Shore has helped a large number of residents to fulfil their wish to know their neighbours.
The effects of this project and Neighbours Day 2009 are still being seen, says Rebecca. “We are still hearing new stories of how the 2009 campaign prompted people to get together, and the flow on effects of friendliness and neighbourhood connections people made.”
In 2010 LIFEWISE joined up with Inspiring Communities and Methodist Missions around the country to create Neighbours Day Aotearoa as something every kiwi can get involved in.
LIFEWISE provided the seed funding for the project. Further funding and partnerships for 2011 and beyond are sought, to help ensure everyone people in every locality in NZ can hear about and can take part in Neighbours Day Aotearoa. Current supporters can be seen on the website www.neighboursday.org.nz
Lesley Mynett-Johnson, LIFEWISE
ph 09 302 5390 / 0275 405 755
Facebook: search for Neighbours Day Aotearoa