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Website helps build neighbourhood ties

By Hannah Herchenbach, for the Christchurch Mail

Spreydon, New Brighton and Redwood are the fastest growing Christchurch communities on a new social media site that aims to bring Neighbourhood Watch into the digital age. has had viral growth since launching nationwide three weeks ago, and more than 1000 Christchurch residents are now on the site.

The website allows neighbours with verified local addresses to exchange information, such as babysitter phone numbers, tools and couches for sale, and to alert neighbours to burglaries, missing pets or emergencies. Non-profit organisations such as civil defence and local residents associations can use the site to communicate with local residents for free.

Co-founder Casey Eton, who studied commerce at the University of Canterbury, said his team researched Christchurch when designing the site, particularly its urgent text alert feature.

“Natural disasters proved neighbourhoods are really important,” he said. “Neighbours are your first line of help, and if you are in a really badly affected area, emergency services won’t get there for a really long time.

It was important to have those networks established before emergencies hit, he said.

Addington resident Darryl Smith, who signed up to be a Neighbourly team-lead soon after joining the site last month, said it would be particularly useful in his suburb where new residents were moving in and former residents had moved on because their homes were damaged.

“Not many people know who lives next door to them anymore,” he said.

Smith plans a flyer drop on his street to raise awareness about Neighbourly and encourage people to meet their neighbours via the social media platform.

A CERA spokesperson said initiatives that brought people together, such as neighbourhood-led events, helped to strengthen community ties and community resilience.

“Having a connected community is particularly important in building societies that can withstand adversity.”

Eton said he was impressed with the website’s activity, saying neighbours’ requests for help were getting at least five to six responses. “[People] are getting really stuck in in regards to helping each other.”

In St Heliers, Auckland, one of the five suburbs piloted for the site, 700 neighbours had signed up within three months.