15 April 2021
Neighbourhood networks are a great way to stay connected with your community and to provide and receive support when needed.
An annual event that encourages neighbours to connect is Neighbours Day Aotearoa.
This is a nationwide event designed to foster whanaungatanga (connection) and manaakitanga (support and kindness) to make our neighbourhoods safer, more resilient, and all-round happier places to be.
This year Neighbours Day took place over 20 – 30 March. So while the event is now over, it’s always a good time to get to know your neighbours. Connecting with people in your neighbourhood is not only great from a social perspective, but in the event of something like a natural disaster or Civil Defence emergency, it helps to know who might need assistance to stay safe. As well as having your own safety plan and evacuation kit ready, being able to support others and share resources goes a long way in aiding post-disaster recovery.
Rotorua Lakes Council’s Property, Emergency Management, Te Aka Mauri (Library) and Strategy staff worked with the Rotorua Police and Rotorua Neighbourhood Support to give senior residents of Council’s social housing an opportunity to connect. The team set up at Miller Street and then Lucas Place with music, a sausage sizzle, cups of tea and a swap table during Neighbours Day.
Council is responsible for 66 units at Lucas Place and 62 at Rawhiti (Miller Street and Kahikatea Street). The size of these complexes means there is not always the opportunity for residents to mix and mingle. Those who attended the Neighbours Day event spoke of how nice it was to touch base with their neighbours, and that it was a good opportunity to sign up to programmes like ‘Library to You’ – a free, home-delivery library service. One man even got a tutorial on how to make calls on his cellphone and charge the battery. The get-together also gave residents a chance to talk about any safety concerns and to form a Neighbourhood Support group.
Residents also made a lot of meaningful connections at the events.
Linda Johnston, Civil Defence and Emergencies co-ordinator, said it was wonderful to see people come together and take time to get to know one another.
“One resident spoke of being in the housing complex since 1988 and not knowing that a relative was living in the neighbouring complex since 1999,” Linda said.
“The Neighbours Day meet-up provided the opportunity for these two ladies to reconnect and share stories. Another resident spoke of how much he appreciated the regular contact by phone over the COVID-19 lockdown last year and how he had missed that since.
“He said this event was an opportunity to reconnect with Council and Civil Defence and he really appreciated it.”
So while Neighbours Day might only happen once a year, we can all make an effort to support and check in on our neighbours on a regular basis – the residents at Council’s social housing complexes certainly will be.
Are you prepared? Visit www.getthru.govt.nz for information on how to get your household ready for an emergency. You can also phone the Rotorua Lakes Council Customer Centre (07 348 4199) or Neighbourhood Support Rotorua (07 349 9470) to find out how to join or start a group in your neighbourhood that actively prepares for, responds to and supports neighbours and communities when faced with an emergency or natural disaster.
You can find out more about Council’s social housing complexes here.
For information on Neighbours Day visit www.neighboursday.org.nz/