By Claire Farrelly
Maurice has many neighbourly tendencies from lending tools to collecting mail and always smiling and saying hello. Maurice thinks that a small effort can turn streets into neighbourhoods.
Maurice, affectionately known as ‘Opa’ by two little girls who once lived next door, would be considered by many, to be the ideal neighbour. So natural are his neighbourly tendencies that recalling his acts of neighbourly kindness was rather difficult – they are simply a natural extension of who he is. Whether it be lending his tools, trimming a neighbour’s hedge, offering storage space, collecting mail or offering a friendly wave and hello, Maurice embodies kindness and neighbourliness.
When asked about his various acts of generosity, Maurice explains that, for both him and his wife, it is simply a matter of assisting his neighbours where they have a need. He points out that you do not need ‘to live out of each other’s pockets in doing so’, rather you just need to make an effort, whatever that may be. At the very least, Maurice points out, it is well worth making an introduction and swapping numbers. As a result of his efforts Maurice maintains close relationships with his neighbours, even maintaining contact after a shift might relocate a family.
Maurice reflects that in times gone by it was second nature to speak to those across the fence. He acknowledges that, nowadays, it is somewhat difficult to build and maintain a relationship with neighbours when so many residents are renting and as a result may be quite transient. He also agrees that, language barriers, or perceived cultural blocks may dissuade people from making the move out of their comfort zones. Maurice encourages kiwis to not let such factors deter them, after all, it is the cultural diversity of Aotearoa that adds richness to our relationships, providing us with experiences and relationships that might not otherwise be available to us.
Like Maurice, you might just find that a small amount of effort goes a long way to turning your street into a neighbourhood.