If you’ve ever moved your family to a new neighbourhood, you’ll know it can be a challenging time.
You spend anxious mornings calming the kids’ nerves before they set off to their new school, and you miss the familiar faces of the people you used to bump into at the supermarket. Maybe you wonder who you’d call on if you ever needed help.
For residents of a new Housing New Zealand development in Auckland’s Silverdale, it was no different. They quickly realised, though, that they were all in the same boat, each having moved in a few months ago. When Housing New Zealand Community Development Manager, Karen, suggested that they might like to hold a neighbourhood event to get to know one another, they jumped at the chance.
After doing a bit of door knocking to find out from other tenants what they’d like the event to involve, the organisers settled on a family BBQ in the shared lane at the back of their houses.
“I wanted to help organise it to meet the neighbours and I think it’s really good for all the kids. I’m usually a shy person but this has brought me out of my little cave,” laughs Owen, Housing New Zealand tenant and father of three.
The organisers were also keen to invite the residents of the other houses down the lane. Neighbour Kaidi bought her new home a year ago and has just moved in with her husband and two children. She says she was delighted to get an invitation in her letterbox.
“They’re such lovely people. My eldest son comes back from kindy and goes straight out to play with the neighbours. We’re really enjoying the community feel up here. I know lots of the kids already but it’s good to get to know the parents and families too.”
Housing New Zealand’s Community Development team helps facilitate many events like this one at developments right across New Zealand every year. Karen says she’s enjoyed working with the Silverdale tenants, and she’s feeling positive about the blossoming friendships between neighbours.
“The aim for this complex is a tight, supportive community; where everyone knows their neighbours, looks out for each other and cares for each other.”
After weeks of planning, shopping and cooking, everyone agreed the BBQ was a resounding success, with a bouncy castle and face painting for the kids, and of course, plenty of delicious kai.
Says tenant Nadezna, “The best thing about this event is everyone coming together, and the kids having a great time. There’s food on the barbie, everyone’s having a good chat. This is a great place to raise my kids.”