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Community Champion celebrated!

Each month we will be celebrating a different champion – someone who works with their local community and supports and promotes Neighbourhood Support.


This month our champion is Anaru Graham, a Sergeant with the New Zealand Police in Hawkes Bay. 🎉 🙌


We asked him a few questions about his involvement with Neighbourhood Support:

How long have you been involved with / been a champion of Neighbourhood Support?


Partnerships and being connected with the communities we work and live, has always been a priority for me, since joining the police and in particular starting work in the prevention area of policing I believe my passion for a connected safer community has always linked back to neighbourhood support.  My earliest memory of neighbourhood support was when I was living with my mum and dad in Hawkes Bay. It was watching out for your neighbours that stuck with me and now I believe is one of the most important goals the police can have with the community. I am still involved in my own street with my family now and encourage my kids to watch out for their friends and neighbours.  For me it links every aspect of our communities from residents to businesses. Neighbourhood support now links to emergency management and the positive benefits for mental wellbeing are recognised worldwide.  Neighbourhood support is something that I will always encourage everyone to be involved with and continue to champion.


How do you engage with and promote Neighbourhood Support Locally?


As well as being involved in my own neighbourhood, I regularly meet with our local neighbourhood support coordinator to talk about what's happening in the area, and what we can do to continue to grow neighbourhood support. This helps to develop a trusted relationship for sharing information and discussing some of the challenges we might face. I maintain a strong relationship with our key partners FENZ, Civil Defence and the local council who all have a vested interest helping to shape a safe connected community.  I encourage my team to connect with and grow groups in the areas they are looking after and I always look for opportunities to connect people and communities.

Often this comes from being a victim of a crime or being isolated due to a weather emergency like cyclone Gabrielle. These types of events always come with a silver lining, I believe that you never pass up an opportunity to connect people, we the police can’t do everything by ourselves we need to support of our community.

Don’t be afraid to try something new to help promote neighbourhood support in your area, coffee with a cop, neighbours day, Awhi referrals all help with making those connections, I can guarantee there are many more initiatives around the country that we are aren’t aware of so don’t be afraid to share and promote what works in your area.


What motivates you to work alongside our organisation?


I find having regular discussions with your key partners helps to set expectations and joint goals. Being on the same page working towards the same goals makes it easier, sometimes this means moving slowly, but if you have a clear plan it can be fun and help with staying positive.  I personally know from my own experience that being connected in your own neighbourhood and watching out for your neighbours is one of the best ways to prevent crime and to support each other during tough times.

Its because of watching out for my neighbours and my desire to make a difference in my own community through being connected that I stay motivated and excited about the work I do.  If you can find people with the same mindset it makes it even more exciting.   


What aspects of community networking have you seen Neighbourhood Support work really well?


The most recent and effective example I can think of is Cyclone Gabrielle, it was one of the worst natural disasters to hit Hawkes Bay since the Napier earthquake, it was also the best example of communities coming together to support each other.  It highlighted how we can all make a difference if we look out for each other.  I saw new groups form, old groups re vitalise and partner agencies get reminded of the importance of neighbourhood support and being connected.  Since the cyclone, planning for the next event has at the front of everyone’s mind, with neighbourhood support being recognised as one of the most effective emergency management tools linking in to the locality plans of council and Civil Defence.   


What would you tell your colleagues about Neighbourhood Support?


I regularly encourage my colleagues to get involved with their own streets, neighbourhoods and communities they live in. Once they connect at a personal level in their own streets it will highlight to them the importance of looking out for their neighbours and show them that their neighbours will watch out for them.  This then becomes second nature that transfers into the work they do daily.  Being able to connect with people is key, which is why we are currently working on a training session and update of the Awhi system to ensure we make it as easy as possible for staff to refer people wanting to be part of a group. 

More importantly it’s about making people realise that they are the solution to their problems, and being part of neighbourhood support helps keep everyone connected, informed and safe.

I try to make myself available and I enable my team to support events and meetings to show our support and help to build and maintain neighbourhood support groups in our community.


About Neighbourhood Support New Zealand

Neighbourhood Support is a nationwide community led movement that brings people and neighbourhoods together to create safe, resilient, and connected communities. Over 220,000 households are part of our growing network. Neighbourhood Support work alongside NZ Police and other partners to equip neighbourhoods to improve safety, be prepared for emergencies and support one another so that our communities are great places to live.

Address (appointment only)

C/O Police National Headquarters

180 Molesworth Street

Thorndon, Wellington, 6011

New Zealand

Phone - 0800 4 NEIGHBOURS (0800 463 444)

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