Think you’re good and ready for an emergency? If you’ve sorted your getaway kit and your whānau plan, it’s time to take the next step: get to know your neighbours.

Sharing a cup of tea with your neighbours, joining a local sports team or helping out at the school market might not seem like obvious ways to get prepared for an emergency, but playing an active role in your community before a disaster can make a huge difference to your community's capacity to be more self-reliant during a disaster.

Research shows better connected communities are more resilient and recover faster after a disaster. Red Cross Community Resilience Coordinator Jamuna Rotstein explains.

“Communities are always the first responders during an emergency. If we’re cut off by a flood, if the power goes out or if there’s a medical incident, it’s our neighbours who are there and able to help straight away. It’s a lot easier if you already know, for instance, that someone on your street is a doctor or that an elderly neighbour might need a hand getting to a tsunami safe zone.”

“Being part of a connected community doesn’t just help during emergencies. It can also make it a lot easier to work together to fundraise for projects and organise events” she says.

“Everyone can bring their own skills and resources to the table and together, you can make a real difference in your neighbourhood.”

There are plenty of ways to get involved in your community and it doesn’t have to be hard work! Host a street barbecue, try a new hobby or take part in local events.

You can also join Red Cross! Red Cross works in communities around Aotearoa and there are many different ways you can get involved.

Kickstart your community connections

Communities across Aotearoa will come together to celebrate Neighbours Day on 24 March, so it’s a great opportunity to kickstart your community connections. Take part in a local Neighbours Day Aotearoa event this year and get to know who you’re sharing a street or suburb with.

But don’t stop once Neighbours Day has passed! Here are some easy ways you can keep connected throughout the year:

  • Lean over the fence and meet your neighbours: Share a cup of tea or organise a street barbecue
  • Join a community group: Learn a new sport, join a book club or volunteer with Red Cross
  • Work together to get prepared: Swap contact details with your neighbours and coordinate an emergency plan for your street