City & Town of the Year Competition

20 Jan, 2016


Nice Neighbourhoods: Neighbours Day Aotearoa launches City & Town of the Year Competition

The first ever Neighbours Day Aotearoa City & Town of the Year competition opens today, as a group of community sector organisations encourage people to get to know their neighbours.

New Zealanders are being urged to “put their neighbourhood on the map” by signing up online to take part in Neighbours Day Aotearoa on 19–20 March 2016. This will be the sixth year Neighbours Day is held nationwide, and thousands of people are expected to take part, organising activities ranging from baking a cake for a neighbour, to visiting neighbours, to sharing home grown produce, to hosting street BBQs and kids’ games days.

It pays to sign up online to take part, as the Neighbours Day Aotearoa City & Town of the Year titles will be awarded to the town and city with the highest number of activities registered per capita. Around New Zealand, people are already planning how they can get to know those living close to them.

“I want to connect with others in my street in a fun way,” says Auckland resident Susan Ludbrook. “Our ever-changing society means life has become fractured for so many of us. I’d like to be part of a movement that brings people closer.”

Susan is organising an event on her street for the first time this year, and keeping a special diary of the experience that will feature online in the lead up to Neighbours Day.

Research shows that getting to know our neighbours impacts positively on mental health and social connectedness, helps communities feel safer and increases resilience. 90% of participants surveyed in 2015 reported that they knew their neighbours better as a result of Neighbours Day, and 67% felt safer where they live as a result of participating. Neighbours Day highlights these benefits, while showing that getting to know your neighbours is also fun, social and enjoyable.

Everyone who registers a Neighbours Day activity will be counted towards their town or city’s total. This can be something as simple as having a cup of tea with your neighbours, or holding a picnic for your whole apartment block.

“The important thing is that you get out and say hi to your neighbours, whether that means meeting them for the first time or getting to know them better,” says Neighbours Day Aotearoa project manager Ashlee Gross. “Feedback from previous Neighbours Day events has shown us that once people take the initial step, they are likely to continue connecting with their neighbours.”

The campaign is led by Lifewise, Inspiring Communities, the Mental Health Foundation, Neighbourhood Support NZ, Christchurch Methodist Mission, and the Public Libraries of New Zealand, and is supported by over 100 other organisations around New Zealand, many of whom organise public events for Neighbours Day.