Wellington suburbs get behind Neighbours Day

NEIGHBOURS DAY: Ossie and Jenny Fountain look over their back fence at Arabella Waugh and Seth Butler, both 4, of Tui Park Kindergarten.
NEIGHBOURS DAY: Ossie and Jenny Fountain look over their back fence at Arabella Waugh and Seth Butler, both 4, of Tui Park Kindergarten.

If disaster hits Mexted Tce in Tawa, the residents will spring into action looking after children in the neighbouring Tui Park Kindergarten.

For Neighbours Day this weekend, 49 events have been registered with the Wellington City Council in Tawa alone, plus five more in the wider Northern ward.

Just one event has been registered in the Eastern ward, which stretches from Roseneath in the north to Houghton Bay in the south, and Seatoun to the east.

Mexted Tce residents Ossie and Jenny Fountain spent years living in Papua New Guinea.

"We never lived with security fences and guard dogs," Mr Fountain said. "We got to know our neighbours and if we ever had problems, we took them to our neighbours, who would sort it out."

Returning to New Zealand in 1985, the streets of Tawa felt "isolated", with people not meeting each others' eyes in the street. But in March last year they helped set up a Neighbourhood Support group with their immediate neighbours and it has begun to spread down the street.

On Tuesday, they decided if a natural disaster struck, those who were able would make their way to the neighbouring Tui Park Kindergarten and care for the children until parents arrived.

Kindergarten teacher Pam Lyons said while the initiative was encouraging, a more immediate benefit of the neighbourhood's new community-mindedness had already been noted.

Two Christmas breaks ago, $2000 of windows were broken at the kindergarten. Last Christmas there were none.

"I think it's just being able to look out for the kids here, and the property," she said.

Tawa Community Board chairman Malcolm Sparrow said the board actively encouraged the already-community minded suburb to jump aboard Neighbours Day.

"It's the business of building a community before you need one."

Hataitai resident Fifi Colston – who is throwing the eastern suburbs' only council-registered event – had no idea why her neighbouring suburbs were so short of Neighbours' Day events.

By yesterday, the council had six events booked in the Lambton ward, three in Southern, and four in Onslow-Western.

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown, who recently had her neighbours over for fish and chips on a Friday night, will be visiting various community events this weekend.