Tasked by Lifewise and Takapuna Methodist Church to find new and innovative ways to support local neighbourhoods, Rebecca Harrington – passionate community advocate – came across the following finding: many people today recognise they are isolated from their neighbours, yet are unsure what to do about it. After hearing that planned neighbourhood celebrations were becoming commonplace worldwide, Rebecca sought to establish a similar annual campaign in New Zealand, now celebrated annually as Neighbours Day Aotearoa. Initially launched by Lifewise in Auckland in 2009, Neighbours Day Aotearoa became a nationwide initiative and campaign in 2011.
Neighbours Day Aotearoa is a collaborative campaign organised and supported by Lifewise, Inspiring Communities, The Mental Health Foundation, Christchurch Methodist Mission and New Zealand Red Cross. Thousands of neighbours, organisations, local government and local businesses have been involved, bringing neighbours together over the last weekend in March each year. With support from The Tindall Foundation we are growing a movement of neighbourliness throughout Aotearoa, New Zealand.
Whether you live in a suburb, on a city block, in an apartment or on a rural property, you have neighbours – and knowing your neighbours matters. We believe that every connection you have with your neighbours makes your neighbourhood more friendly, fun and safe. By encouraging better connected neighbourhoods and more everyday ‘neighbourliness’, neighbours can be stronger and more resilient, significantly enhancing the wellbeing of individuals, family/whanau and the wider community. We know that stronger neighbourhoods can be part of the successful antidote for many social issues within Aotearoa.
Neighbours Day continues to be a catalyst for thousands of Kiwis to connect with their neighbours and turn their streets into neighbourhoods, ata whainga te pa harakeke.
Atawhaingia te pa harakeke – this whakatauki or proverb speaks to the essence of what Neighbours Day is looking to achieve, nurture familial bonds in the solidarity and unity of community. Atawhaingia is to nurture, protect, cultivate and love. The Pa Harakeke is the Harakeke (flax) grove of the village, used as a metaphor for an intertwined community.
Lifewise is an Auckland based not-for-profit community agency that provides critical services to vulnerable and at-risk people of all ages. Lifewise is working to pass on a healthier New Zealand to the next generation. Lifewise was the driving force behind the first ever Neighbours Day campaign in New Zealand and continues to be a key supporting organisation in shaping the future of the campaign.
Inspiring Communities has been working since 2008 to grow the recognition, understanding and practice of community-led development and promote the difference it makes in Aotearoa, New Zealand. Inspiring communities played a key role in building the momentum for the initial Neighbours Day campaign and have since that time been a campaign partner.
The Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand is a charity that works towards creating a society free from discrimination, where all people enjoy positive mental health and wellbeing. We work to influence individuals, whānau, organisations and communities to improve and sustain their mental health and reach their full potential. The Mental Health Foundation supported Neighbours Day in 2011 and joined the steering group in 2012.
Christchurch Methodist Mission Every day, for close to 80 years, the Christchurch Methodist Mission (CMM) has been making a positive difference in our city and in people’s lives.
Through innovative and responsive child and family services, social housing, group programmes and services for older people CMM reaches a broad base of diverse residents facing multiple challenges.
New Zealand Red Cross is part of the largest humanitarian network in the world. Our mission is to improve the lives of vulnerable people through mobilising the power of humanity and enhancing community resilience at home and overseas. New Zealand Red Cross formally joined the steering group in 2017.