By Kimberley Cleland
Blackie and Tui found they had a very diverse neighbourhood through their Neighbours Day activity. They found going a step further in getting to know each other turned strangers into friends.
Two years ago, Blackie and Tui moved from the Hawkes Bay to Auckland. The cul-de-sac in Orakei where they live has many units and rental properties. They had observed people of different cultures in their street and while they waved at familiar faces they felt that they didn’t know anyone very well.
After hearing about Neighbours Day Aotearoa, they took the opportunity to really get to know their neighbours in a deeper, richer way. Initially, they knocked on every door to introduce themselves and hand out a Neighbours Day invitation. They also collected contact details and asked if a Saturday or Sunday was better for an afternoon BBQ. Soon, several of the neighbours were engaged and emails were flying between them to organise the afternoon. Although Blackie and Tui had initiated the event, it took on a life of its own as more people got involved and offered to help.
Hosting a friendly party was really important for Blackie and Tui so they developed a clever plan. Tui put together a quiz which encouraged people to ask questions to each other. They were keen to see where their neighbours originated from. One of the questions was “how many cultures are represented today?” They found out that they had very diverse neighbours including Iranian, Chinese, Maori, Croatian, Philipino and European. But language barriers didn’t stop the neighbourly connections; when there weren’t words that could be used to connect, they made do with gestures.
Taking the time to get to know your neighbours can turn strangers into friends. Blackie agrees, “I got my guitar out on the day and the first song I sung was happy birthday for someone who was previously a stranger, it was great!”. Blackie and Tui have since moved to Mt Wellington but are planning to gate crash this year’s street party. ” We have to attend to catch up with our friends”.
Blackie and Tui have some advice for anyone planning a neighbourhood get together.
- Be natural
- Be nice
- Go door knocking and invite people face-to-face
- Have a plan for the day