Lower Hutt residents have sung happy birthday from their doorsteps and met for morning tea from their front gates to get through the Covid-19 lockdown together.

People from more than 170 streets across the city have signed up to be "street captains" to offer practical support during the pandemic and share the occasional boomer meme for some more light-hearted relief.

The project started when Hutt South MP Chris Bishop went into voluntary self-isolation for 14 days after returning from Australia last month.

He racked his brain thinking of ways he could be useful, and after remembering there was a woman down the road with health issues who would need assistance during Covid-19, he decided to set up a Facebook group for his street.

He designed a flyer and, because he couldn't leave the house, got someone to print and deliver them.

It turned out the idea was a hit and Bishop decided to try to replicate the initiative on a city-wide level.


A Google document was created for residents to sign up if they wanted to run a street, if they were happy to be contacted to help someone, or if they needed assistance themselves.

Hutt South MP Chris Bishop came up with the 'street captain' idea during his own self-isolation. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Hutt South MP Chris Bishop came up with the 'street captain' idea during his own self-isolation. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Bishop said the document was inundated, with more than 170 street captains in every Lower Hutt suburb from Belmont to Wainuiomata.

One street's residents regularly have morning tea out on their front gates together at 11 o'clock, while another street sang happy birthday to a 70-year-old from their front gates, Bishop said.

"Particularly seniors have been identified as needing support so people are checking on them, people are setting up teddy bear hunts, sharing ridiculous memes, there's quite a few boomer memes going around.

"It's basically the community looking after the community because it's much better having a grassroots street-by-street approach because that's ultimately how we're going to get through this."

Bishop's office has called almost every person in the electorate over the age of 70 to ask whether they are okay or need help. If they do, there's usually a street captain nearby to put them in touch with.

Harsh Vardhan is the captain for Gainsborough Drive in Belmont.

He knew he wanted to help during Covid-19 and thought starting at the street level was a good idea but he had never spoken to his neighbours.


"I have lived on the street for the past three or four years now, and in general there's not a lot of interaction on our street."

But he saw Bishop's initiative on Facebook and printed out a flyer template to deliver to people on his street.

"It's been amazing how people have responded, immediately within two or three pages almost all of them signed up to the Facebook page."

Vardhan said the group offered reassurance they were "standing united" against Covid-19, as well as offering practical assistance like helping elderly people with their groceries.

"I'm 40 now and if I'm offering my help to someone who is 70 at the moment, who knows - when I'm 70, there will be someone else who can help me. It's about the community helping one another", he said.

Rose Tupe is the captain for Moohan St in Wainuiomata.

She said she signed up to the initiative because she was worried no one else would do it and there were a few elderly people in her street.

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

People have reached out to ask for groceries to be picked up if needed and medication, Tupe said.

"A lot of residents have offered help and support so there is a good network of people here to help others. We're still in the early days of lockdown so I'm thinking more support might be asked for in the coming days and weeks."