Simon Collins is the Herald’s social issues reporter.

How well do you know your neighbour?

When Cherry Fernandez forgets to close her car window at night, her neighbours come and tell her.

And when Romil Fernandez encountered a young man door-knocking the street with a suspicious story, he kept an eye out.

"I went out on the street and the neighbour also went out, and then there were three of us, and he thought it was better to run away," Mr Fernandez recalls.

People in Caspian Close in New Lynn know each other better than most. On Neighbours Day tomorrow they're holding their third annual street event, an afternoon tea to which all 26 households are invited.

Some neighbours are good friends. Cherry and Romil Fernandez have enjoyed tea and cakes at the home of their widowed neighbour Ann Christie, and Mrs Christie has eaten a Filipino meal at the Fernandez home.

They even know what time each household goes to bed on Saturday nights.

"We see each other's lights, and so we know we're both up," Mrs Fernandez said.

But others still know very little about each other's lives.

Jaimin Desai, at No 5, was surprised to hear that Bernie Ranum and Rieko Sakai, five houses up the street, have two fox terriers.

"Oh, I didn't know that," he said when he wife Avadhi swapped notes with the other couple at Mrs Christie's house this week.

But both couples thought they would be able to borrow something from the other if they needed to.

Caspian Close is an unusual cul-de-sac. Unitec architecture lecturer David Turner has described its identical three-bedroom houses, built in 1995, as "reminiscent of the simple cabins of early settlements".

The homes are close to the street and many do not have front fences.

Dr Turner found it was the most stable of 46 higher-density developments he studied, with only 5 per cent of homes changing ownership annually in its first 10 years.

It is also typical of Auckland's cultural melting pot.

Residents counted five Filipino families, five Kiwi, four each of Chinese and Indian households, one Arab family, the Kiwi/Japanese Ranum/Sakai household, and other homes rented out to short-term tenants.

They don't have a formal Neighbourhood Support branch, but Mr Ranum invited most of the residents to join the Neighbourly website and Mrs Fernandez is a "lead" who encourages use of the site in New Lynn.

"We've got a very nice neighbour, Cherry, who does a lot of organisation and manages to bring the street together, and I think that's really good for all of us," Mr Ranum said.

Mrs Christie used the website to find someone to fix the back fence. It had been leaning over and weeds were spreading into her well-kept garden.

"I got two replies and they wanted to come round and do my weeding for me," she said.

But all of this neighbourliness can't shut out the outside world.

The Desais' car was stolen from their carport recently and residents worry about strangers using a footbridge from their street to the New Lynn shops. But at least in Caspian Place they live among friends.

"What should we bring on Saturday?" Mr Desai asked Mrs Fernandez. "Should we cook something?"

"It's just a cup of tea," Mrs Fernandez replied.

"Cheese scones?" asked Mrs Christie.

And everyone said: "Yes!"

Neighbours Day

• Encourages New Zealanders to meet their neighbours at least one day a year - in 2016 this weekend, March 19-20.

• Founded by Lifewise and Takapuna Methodist Church in 2009.

• Now run by Lifewise, Inspiring Communities, Mental Health Foundation, Neighbourhood Support and Public Libraries of NZ.

- NZ Herald

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