Love thy neighbour . . .
Especially in an emergency
Enjoying barbecues, baking and backyard cricket this weekend may prove to be vital disaster survival tools, say the organisers of Neighbours Day Aotearoa.
This weekend marks the second annual Neighbours Day, which this year focuses on the value of a strong community in civil emergencies.
Plimmerton residents are keen to show every day holds opportunities to meet new neighbours. Former Kapiti College teacher Alister Brown has lived in Plimmerton for 30 years. He has been the type of positive role model Neighbours Day encourages all year round.
Locals say he frequently gives away his home-grown vegetables and picks up rubbish on his way to church.
‘‘Whenever I go for a walk, I take a plastic bag and pick up any tin cans that I walk past and recycle them for cash. And with a vege garden it’s just sharing the surplus, which is all part of being neighbours,’’ says Mr Brown.
His neighbourly acts also include checking on the elderly ladies who live alone in the street when there are power failures.
‘‘That’s part of neighbourhood support, making sure those that need help get it. We can look after ourselves but sometimes they can’t,’’ he says.
After the Canterbury earthquakes, it became clear that knowing your neighbours was more important than ever as everyone shared food and resources.
‘‘It’s really just setting up a little community – we keep an eye out for every- one else,’’ says Mr Brown.
The organisers of Neighbours Day Aotearoa want to see strong, connected, fun, friendly and safe neighbourhoods across New Zealand.
Rachel Wybourne Curtin, also from Plimmerton, has helped to organise a street barbecue every December for nine years. She says it’s helpful to know your neighbours for your children’s safety so they have a familiar house to go to if they need help.
‘‘If it wasn’t for the barbecue and getting to know everyone, then we couldn’t help each other out. People would rally round in an emergency even if they don’t know people by name.’’
Mrs Wybourne Curtin says having the event in the street makes it easier as there’s no pressure on anyone in particular to host it. It’s a bring-your-own event, so there’s also no competition on who’s bringing the best plate.
‘‘We include anyone with any connection to the street, past and present, children, everyone’s welcome and included. Everyone has their little traditions which makes this event quite special.’’
Neighbours Day was initiated in France in 1990. Around 450 cities in Europe were celebrating it by 2005. In 2009, Auckland celebrated Neighbours Day, before it became a nationwide initiative in 2011.
Neighbours Day weekend is March 24-25. For more info and ideas visit neighboursday.org.nz.
Nicole Baxter is Journalism student
Fine example: Plimmerton residents Alister and Barbara Brown are encouraging residents to connect with their neighbours more, whether it’s social or practical, like sharing produce.