Neighbours get together via website

By Cassandra Mason

Andrea Perez said the website Neighbourly has helped her connect with people in her area. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Andrea Perez said the website Neighbourly has helped her connect with people in her area. Photo / Brett Phibbs

A new Kiwi website is helping people take a leap of faith to connect with their neighbours.

Social media site Neighbourly brings residents in the same neighbourhood together, allowing them to swap gardening tips, walk each other's dogs and find their area's best babysitter.

Managing director Casey Eden said he and co-founder Shane Bradley started discussing the idea last year, inspired by the realisation they knew more about people abroad than just across the fence.

"We could check out what our friends were having for dinner in London yet we were terrified to walk next door and meet our neighbours," he said. "Most people in modern times have got very, very busy and forgotten about meeting the person next door."

The site was introduced in five suburbs in Auckland in January, and went live nationally two weeks ago. It's now gaining 1000 new members a day.

Once signed up, neighbours can post messages about anything of local interest, such as sharing garden tools, advertising chopped firewood, or discuss crime and safety issues.

One Mt Eden member issued a plea to her neighbours this week to keep an eye out for her beloved bike after it was stolen from her front porch. Another has offered her dog walking services over the weekend.

Telecommunications Users' Association acting chief executive Chris O'Connell said Neighbourly reflected the modern day dilemma of isolated neighbours - but would only work if everyone got on board.

Safe way to make contact

St Heliers resident Andrea Perez has been on Neighbourly since late January, and says it's helped her take the leap to meeting her neighbours.

"I was doing my gardening outside and someone said 'Are you Andrea?' and I said 'Oh my God yes'. [They said] 'You are from Neighbourly'.

"Before, that had never happened."

Ms Perez, pictured, who works at the St Heliers Community Centre, said the site helped get the word out about community events.

Previously unknown members of a neighbouring church had shown up to help cut watermelon for Round the Bays runners.

"They just came on board and said 'We're happy to help' because of Neighbourly."

One friend had 25 local members turn up to her yoga class.

"Everyone got into it straight away. I couldn't believe it."

Neighbourly was a simple and safe way to get in touch with the people next door, she said.

- APNZ

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