The flat next door to us is occupied by a man who is such a complete mystery to us that we wonder whether one day, while being interviewed by a TV news crew, we will feel compelled to say: "Yes, actually, we always suspected something. He was just not normal at all."
The first time I met him was a week or so after we moved in, when our water stopped running. I went to the water mains at our letterbox. He was already out there.
"Hi!" I said. "Have you got water problems, too?"
"Some little c***'s turned it off," he said. "Oh," I said.
I stood there for a minute while he turned it back on, but we didn't find any more words to share. My wife and I started referring to him as "C***", until we gave birth to our daughter, at which point we changed it to "C-word".
That exchange four years ago is still the most I've talked to him. Sure, he has yelled at our parents and friends for parking across his driveway and he occasionally looks at me when we pass on the driveway. I've said, "How's it going?" but we've never made a connection that has allowed us to broach the issue of the tinfoil on his windows.
For about a year, we had an ¬equally distant relationship with the people in the flat beneath us.
It's a strange thing living on top of strangers who you can hear going to the toilet. We didn't have anything against them, but when a week or two has gone by without anybody making an introduction after you move in, you're kind of stuck in a weird place.
They eventually moved out and the landlords moved in, gutted it, renovated, and put it on the market. They were older and friendly enough, although we didn't hang out or anything. After they banged on their ceiling while Zanna and I were practising our wedding dance, we felt a bit -uncomfortable around them.
There were a couple of weekend open homes and then they knocked on our door and told us they had sold. They were very excited and described the auction result as like winning Lotto.
This was about three years ago so by comparison with today's market it was more like ¬winning a free drink from a gas station scratchy.
They told us they had got us some lovely neighbours, which I knew couldn't be considered an objective description, given the nature of their relationship, but I still felt good about it.
When Jack and Jess moved in, we put a nice note and a bottle of our leftover wedding chardonnay on their doorstep and that seemed to have an impact because a few days later they invited us to their housewarming barbecue.
We brought down a couple of chairs and a bottle of wine and didn't tell them for quite a few weeks afterwards that Zanna was pregnant.
They were English, not that there was anything wrong with that. Jess was a doctor and Jack worked for Watercare, doing something that, no matter how many times I asked him to explain over the coming years, I could not understand.
We liked going over for the regular dinners they cooked us, and hoped they enjoyed the twice we had them up to our place.
Our relationship made it a much nicer place to live. We felt more secure and comfortable, and it gave us a warm feeling to know we had good neighbours. We would put their bins out and they would bake us scones.
The day we came home from Birthcare with our daughter, Jack and Jess came up with a present.
We were just serving dinner and were flummoxed by the practicalities of having a dinner and a baby, so we thrust Tallulah at them and they sat on our couch while we ate furiously and uncertainly, wondering how we were now to live.
One Saturday morning when Tallulah was just a few months old, I stood in our kitchen in my dressing gown and looked down at our garden with its chest-high weeds and saw Jack hacking at them with a spade. I felt terrible about it.
"Is Jack weeding our garden?" I asked Zanna. "Yes," she said. "I feel terrible about it." I was so grateful I could have cried.
We went into the lounge, where we knew he wouldn't be able to see us. When I was sure he'd finished, I went to the supermarket and bought him a four-pack of beer.
This is all sort of relevant because this weekend is Neighbours Day Aotearoa, an event of a type I would once have scorned as forced fun, but as I get older I see the value in forced fun.
The celebration was started by a network of community groups as a way of addressing the finding that many people feel isolated from their neighbours and don't know what to do about it.
Good neighbourhood relations are something groups and policymakers around the world are putting ever-greater focus on because research is showing the importance of neighbours to our wellbeing.
Relationships with neighbours have been shown to have a bigger impact on how we feel about where we live than the quality of the house we live in.
Residents of close-knit neighbourhoods have been shown to be more likely to work together to achieve common goals, to exchange information and to keep a lid on crime and antisocial behaviour. Kids in close-knit neighbourhoods are less likely to smoke, drink and do drugs.
Less close-knit neighbourhoods with more social disorder have been linked to a higher incidence of -anxiety and depression.
All this fits more broadly into research about the importance of ¬social connections. People with good social connections are more likely to have jobs, be well-paid for doing them and get promoted.
They're more likely to co-operate with others, less likely to be isolated, more likely to engage with their community, less likely to get sick.
It doesn't necessarily mean being best friends with your neighbours. Both weak and strong social ties have been shown to be important.
Weak ties can expose you to ¬new ideas and ways of life. They can help provide a sense of connection, familiarity and self-worth.
We were sad when Jack and Jess moved to Hamilton about six months ago and rented their place out. They got a rental appraisal and found standard rents for places our size in our area were about $100 a week more than Zanna and I were paying. We asked them not to mention that to our landlord and they didn't, largely ¬because they didn't know him.
They had an open home, which attracted the usual dozens of desperate young people who can barely afford to live in this financially ¬incoherent city.
Our new neighbours are in their early-mid 20s. He has a cool beard and a small motorbike; she has the energy and drive of the high-potential young creative professional.
On the day they moved in, I met them both and liked them. She brought us delicious home-baked vegan cupcakes.
It was soon Christmas, and she again brought over treats she had baked - not just cupcakes but a whole selection of stuff, including little muesli bars wrapped up with hipster string.
We gave them a book and sometimes take out their bins. (They have also taken out our bins.)
They weeded their garden recently and also did part of ours, but left the majority of it, including the toughest weeds, which are now probably even higher and more strongly embedded than when Jack last pulled them.
In a few weeks we will move into our first home, in Glen Eden. The street seems nice. It's quiet and close to a primary school and public transport, and it was as close to ¬affordable as we could find.
We first started trying to buy a home two years ago. Towards the end, I had given up on almost everything I wanted in a home and instead cared almost exclusively about finding a community that felt decent.
When I first drove into our new street, I liked it. It was not far from the excitingly shambolic town centre and it was full of the type of houses I could imagine my daughter playing in with her friends in a few years.
I met a young guy who lived across the road and asked him if it was a good street. He said yes and I felt good about that, because when I had first looked at our new house in Google Street View there were shoes over the power lines next door. I have no idea what that means but I have heard stories and am easily frightened.
When my wife was a child, her elderly neighbour, Jean, was one of her best friends. They used to watch Days of Our Lives together. When the characters kissed, Jean would say, "They really make a meal of it, don't they?"
I imagine them sitting there on the couch: little Zanna and lovely old Jean, with Zanna's unspoken questions about what the hell was happening in Days of our Lives lying between them along with Zanna's plastic tumbler of cordial and Jean's warm tea, and I want something like that for my own children.
It's easy to believe we now live in a less friendly society. Every generation likes to tell the one that follows things aren't like they used to be.
But that doesn't have to be true. My plan, after we move into our new home in a few weeks' time, is to knock on my neighbours' doors with my wife and daughter and say: "Hi, how are things? Just wanted to come and say hi and meet our new neighbours. Come say hi sometime."
It is clear from that terrible dialogue that I haven't thought these interactions through carefully and that this all sounds awkward as hell, and it probably will be.
Still, in my rich fantasy life, I see it leading to lifelong friendships. Even if it doesn't, I'd like to think the act in itself still means something, or has some impact. At the very least, it seems like a good thing to do.