The Waikawa Beach village has been filling up for decades. It's well-established with its 250 houses. An urban area, sections are smaller and houses are close together. That's an ideal setup for casual conversations with neighbours — a solid foundation for a strong community.
The much newer Strathnaver area though is founded on two streets and a couple of private lanes. About 100 properties are scattered along a total length of some 3.5 Km. In such a rural residential area sections are bigger and houses more spread out so it's harder for neighbours to meet casually. That can be a little isolating.
What's more this is a rapidly developing area. A couple of dozen new houses have popped up recently or are being planned. Many people are new to the area.
Which is what led a group of neighbours to apply to Horowhenua District Council for a $250 grant from the Events Fund to run a BBQ for everyone in the Strathnaver area over Labour Weekend.
This really struck a chord. About 60 people attended and the response, before and after was very enthusiastic. Another 15 or so expressed regret that prior commitments kept them away. Several people have asked if this could be an annual event.
Local producer Woody's Farm supplied gluten-free sausages — pork, beef and goat. Vegan salads and falafel provided options for those who don't eat meat. A local couple allowed us to use the grassy area by their lake.
Others provided labour to word the flier, buy the groceries, make salads, bring BBQs, do the cooking, set-up and take-down and clean up.
This team effort of planning and execution was worth it! So many people were thrilled to get to meet their neighbours. Or in their words:
A big thank you for a well run arvo much appreciated a great turnout again thanks for the effort I know folk enjoyed.
Thank you and the team for a really enjoyable afternoon yesterday! So well organised, yummy food/salads etc and a great way to get to know/keep in touch with others.
It was great to meet up with a few new people. Thanks so much for organising it, such a lovely idea!
I didn't realise it would be a feast!
Having ‘vegan options' on the flier is what made me attend. If that hadn't been on there I probably would have ignored it.
Originally published in Ōtaki Today, November 2019, page 26.