Confessions of a bad neighbour



I have a confession to make: I am a bad neighbour.

I don’t pop round to welcome new neighbours or chat with old ones over the back fence. I’ve never invited someone on my street over for a cuppa or dropped round with extra fruit and veggies from the garden.

Each year when Neighbours Day, an annual campaign to bring neighbours together, rolls around I vow to change my ways.

People up and down New Zealand will celebrate the day with displays of neighbourliness on March 19 and 20 and Australian neighbours will say g’day as they celebrate Neighbour Day* on March 27. *the ‘s’ lost its way across the ditch.

I don’t think I’m alone in the “bad neighbour” stakes.

When I lived in an apartment block I, like most other people, would avoid eye contact with fellow apartment-dwellers in the lift. In the two years I lived in one building I never actually saw the people who lived next door to me.

To be honest, the most interaction my flatmates and I had with the people we were living within metres of was when the fire alarm would inevitably go off every month or so. Trudging downstairs in our pyjamas out onto the street in the middle of the night could have been a good bonding experience, but we were all far too annoyed and half-asleep for any of that carry-on.

So I feel a bit of a fraud encouraging others to “love thy neighbour” this Neighbours Day.

But here are a few ideas to spark up a bit of old-fashioned neighbourliness:

  • Swap contact details in case you need each other in an emergency
  • Invite your neighbour over for a cuppa
  • Share extra garden produce
  • Bake or make something to gift to neighbours
  • Start or join a neighbourhood support group
  • Host a neighbourhood picnic/barbecue/get-together
  • Share resources like tools, books, toys and sports gear
  • Start a community project to improve your neighbourhood
  • Organise regular neighbourhood catch-ups

Just making the effort to say hello can make a big difference, Neighbours Day Aotearoa project manager Ashlee Gross says.

“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,” Gross says.

“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.”

Ninety percent of people who took part last year reported knowing their neighbours better as a result of participating. While 67 per cent said they now feel safer where they live.

So maybe this year I’ll actually make the effort.

But if you’re anything like me and aren’t the most proactive in the organising department, then you don’t have to miss out on taking part in the neighbourly festivities…

Here’s our pick of the public events happening across New Zealand this weekend and next. Check out the full list here.



Auckland CBD Neighbours Day

Saturday, March 19 2016

11am – 4pm

Freyberg Place and Ellen Melville Hall, Auckland CBD

Live music, free sausage sizzle and sweet treats, art classes, movies, youth and kids zones.

Kayes Rd Community Neighbours Day

Friday, March 18 2016

4pm – 7pm

Kayes Rd Community Garden, 80 Kayes Rd, Pukekohe, Auckland

Hangi display, bouncy castle, gardening workshops, sports activities, face painting.

Halal Hangi and Community Potluck

Sunday, April 3 2016

2pm – 6pm

Three Kings Reserve, Auckland

Bring a blanket and a dish to share, your family and enjoy an afternoon at the base of the beautiful Maunga.


Neighbours Day Picnic

Saturday, March 19 2016

11am – 2pm

Raymond St Park, Fairview Downs, Hamilton

BYO food, utensils, something to sit on and a drink (family-friendly so please no alcohol). With games such as Twister available and a few small giveaways. All welcome.


Community Garden Opening

Saturday, March 19 2016

11am – 12pm

Corner Wycliffe St and Morris Spence Ave, Onekawa, Napier

Opening of the garden for the community and planting fruit trees to get it started. Celebrate Neighbours Day with a BBQ and catch up.


Ascot Park Neighbours Day

Saturday, March 19 2016

11am – 2pm

Ascot Park Sports Ground Conclusion St, Porirua

Prizes, food, fun, activity. With local groups, schools and celebs there on the day. Something for all so come down with the family and meet your neighbours.

Neighbours Day Community Concert

Saturday, March 19 2016

2pm – 7pm

Cherry Tree Park/Senior Citizens Hall, Lyon St

Bring a blanket to sit on and your boggie shoes. If it rains the concert will be shifted inside the Senior Citizen’s Hall. Fundraising BBQ to support youth groups. All types of music so there is something for everyone.

International Cultural Gathering

Sunday, March 20 2016

10am – 2.30pm

Kapiti Community Centre, 15 Ngahina St, Paraparaumu

This day is about celebrating cultural diversity in our community and what better way than a massive shared lunch. Free yoga session in the morning, kids arts activities, story-telling, henna tattoos, cooking demonstrations and performances. Entry is a traditional dish to share and traditional dress is encouraged.


Community Breakfast

Sunday, March 20 2016

9am – 11am

Burrell Park, Muritai St, Tahunanui, Nelson

Tahunanui Community Centre invites you to join them for a BBQ breakfast in Burrell Park. Bring the kids, a mug and a neighbour. All welcome.


Inaugural Brighton Buddies Meeting

Sunday, March 20 2016

3pm – 4pm

Boardroom, corner of Beresford and Union Streets, New Brighton, Christchurch

Some local community members shared their concerned about isolated and alone people in the Greater Brighton Community. Suggestions from buddying, working bees and support. All welcome to the first meeting to grow stronger, connected Greater Brighton neighbourhoods.

Hoon Hay Neighbourhood Picnic

Saturday, March 19 2016


90 Hoon Hay Rd, Hoon Hay, Christchurch

Organised by the newly formed Hoon Hay Residents Association. There will be entertainment and your chance to find out about the formation of the association and keep connected with your community. Bring your friends and neighbours.

Pot Luck Garden Dinner – Diamond Harbour School

Saturday, March 19 2016


Diamond Harbour School, 13 Hunters Rd, Diamond Harbour, Christchurch

Bring along a dish to share, and the students of the school will provide a few salads, baking for afters, along with tea and coffee. In the school vegetable garden or te kete if the weather is bad. Please donate a gold coin or a time bank credit to the school for the running of the Garden to Table Programme.


Are you doing anything to celebrate Neighbours Day? What do you think of the initiative?

Share your thoughts in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.

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