More than 1000 people took part in 42 ‘Over the Fence Cuppas’ to celebrate Neighbours’ Day at the weekend.
The gatherings aim to turn strangers into neighbours and streets into neighbourhoods with the largest one this year involving 180 households and the smallest five.
“It was a great chance to reconnect, as we all lead busy lives and it’s not always possible to catch up,” says Rachel Kirsopp, one of the organisers of a gathering in the Kiwi Road reserve, Raumati Beach which was enjoyed by about 50 people in the neighbourhood.
“We invited the whole street and there was a lovely community atmosphere. It’s nice to connect faces with letterbox numbers. Getting together also gave us a chance to chat about what we would do if there was some kind of disaster, such as a tsunami and it’s comforting to know we could contact each other if we needed help.”
Deputy Mayor Janet Holborow, who hosted a gathering at her house in Ames Street, says the day was a great opportunity to strengthen connections in the neighbourhood and exchange phone numbers in case of a civil defence emergency or for individuals needing some kind of help.
“It was fantastic that people who had lived on the same street for years and never met, could get to know each other a bit. Council provided great support and resources for everyone who took part.”
Neighbours’ Day, which is held across the country, encourages people to get to know their neighbours better to strengthen feelings of belonging, create happier, healthier and safer communities, and build resilience in times of need.