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Love thy neighbour… especially in an emergency

Mar 23rd, 2012 | By | Category: Latest News, News

Alister Brown and his wife Barbara with home-grown vegetables.

ENJOYING barbecues, baking and back-yard cricket this weekend may prove to be vital disaster survival tools, say the organisers of Neighbours Day Aotearoa.

This is the second annual Neighbours Day, which this year focusses on the value of a strong community in civil emergencies.

Plimmerton residents are keen to show every day holds opportunities to meet new neighbours.

Former Kapiti College teacher, Alister Brown  has lived in Plimmerton for 30 years.

He has been the type of positive role model Neighbours Day encourages all year round.

Locals say he frequently gives away his home-grown vegetables and picks up rubbish on his way to church.

“Whenever I go for a walk I take a plastic bag and pick up any tin cans that I walk past and recycle them, for cash. And with a vege garden it’s just sharing the surplus, which is all part of being neighbours,” says Mr Brown.

His neighbourly acts also include checking on the elderly ladies who live alone in the street when there are power failures.

“That’s part of neighbourhood support, making sure those that need help get it. We can look after ourselves but sometimes they can’t,” he says.

After the February earthquake it became clear that knowing your neighbours was more important than ever as everyone shared food and resources.

“It’s really just setting up a little community that we keep an eye out for everyone else,” says Mr Brown.

The organisers of Neighbours Day Aotearoa want to see strong, connected, fun, friendly and safe neighbourhoods across New Zealand.

Rachel Wybourne Curtin has helped to organise a street barbeque every December for nine years.

She says that it’s helpful to know your neighbours for your children’s safety so they have a familiar house to go to if they need help.

“If it wasn’t for the barbeque and getting to know everyone, then we couldn’t help each other out. People would rally round in an emergency even if they don’t know people by name.”

Mrs Wybourne Curtin says that having the event in the street makes it easier as there’s no pressure on anyone in particular to host it.

She added that as it’s a bring-your-own event, there’s no competition on who’s bringing the best plate.

“We include anyone with any connection to the street, past and present… children… everyone’s welcome and included. Everyone has their little traditions which makes this event quite special.”

The idea of Neighbours Day was initiated in France in 1990.

450 cities in Europe were celebrating it by 2005.

In 2009, Auckland celebrated Neighbours Day, before it became a nation-wide initiative in 2011.

Neighbours Day weekend is March 24-25.

For more info or for ideas visit

www.neighboursday.org.nz

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