Neighbourhood Watch was launched in the 1970s to encourage communities to look out for each other. Doubtless aware of its potential to encourage curtain-twitching busybodies, the organisation changed its name to Neighbourhood Support some years later.
But it's taken this long to metastasise to the snoopy Stalinist standards we have seen this week in Napier and also at Hobsonville Point.
Hobby Point, as the locals so winsomely call it, appears to be suffering from OCD – Obsessive Community Disorder. It is a planned community with rules about – oh, almost everything.
It boasts of valuing its "special character" and if by that you mean living in terraced housing that resembles nothing so much as giant videocassette cases then its character is very special indeed.
The Hobsonville Point Residents Society claims to be a "friendly, welcoming and inclusive society". Its rules, which have been chugging along for nearly three years without arousing much outside interest make fascinating reading.
Basically, they are a nag's charter. Many of their relatively concise 750 words remind residents they must abide by bylaws. A bit superfluous, you might think, given that bylaws are, you know, laws. They actually have it in the name.
These rules are so rigid they make the recent celebration to mark the 70th anniversary of the People's Republic of China look like a largely improvised spot of freewheeling fun.
Now the HPRS is drawing a clothesline in the sand over one of its rules - the matter of people airing their clean laundry in public. Washing, according to the laws, should not be hung out to dry where it can be seen from a "street, right of way or pathway".
But if you hide a clothesline, you conceal much else with it. As arts expert Hamish Keith has pointed out in social media, hanging out washing correctly, with care for design and patterning, can be art in itself, the contemplation of which is a joy for passers-by.
Unfortunately for objectors, the rules include the loophole phrase "as much as practicable", which should give lawyers much to debate when the case finally gets to court.
Meanwhile in Napier, one neighbour is waging war against the Hiha family's basketball hoop. It is "an eyesore and very noisy very ignorant towards other residents!" he or she wrote in an anonymous and illiterate all-caps note.
Frustratingly, none of the reports I read noted whether the neighbour, who has said the Hiha children are "like monkeys" was wearing blackface at the time.
The family and even their hoop supplier have worked hard to accommodate the objections, which are not shared by other neighbours, some of whom live closer to their property.
I sympathise. I know that for some people there is no sound as teeth-clenchingly irritating as that of children having fun, especially if it is an activity that involves them being outside and active. Don't these kids have iPads?
Living in a community –whatever its level of planning – is going to involve being annoyed at some level, simply because people are annoying. It's a human default setting. So no matter how many rules you come up with, there will always be room left for people to piss you off. How we handle this is a test of character.
In relevant news from London this week, former Neighbours star Jason Donovan was praised for rushing with a fire extinguisher to one of his neighbour's homes, which caught fire in the middle of the night, clad only in his underpants. Lucky he doesn't live in Hobby Point – he'd almost certainly be violating some sort of dress code.