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History of Neighbourhood Support in New Zealand
History of Neighbourhood Support in Manawatu

History of Neighbourhood Support in New Zealand

In 1979 Neighbourhood Watch was introduced into New Zealand by the Police as a Crime Prevention initiative. It concentrated on the prevention of two type of crimes - household burglary and motor vehicle theft.

In June 1983 in the suburb of St Marys Bay, Auckland, a woman was viciously attacked in her own home by an intruder. Her screams for help fell on deaf ears in a crowded neighbourhood. Good neighbours had not interfered in what they considered was just a case of domestic violence. When the truth of this vicious attack became known, the community came together, not just concerned about dishonesty offences, but increasing violence including domestic violence.

Well attended meetings resulted in the establishment of a Neighbourhood Support scheme. Over forty street coordinators were appointed. Each street worked out methods of protection which varied from street to street, but their level of support for each other was developed beyond the initial purpose of property protection. They obtained commercial sponsorship and were able to challenge the depth of the Police initiated Watch Group.

Their objectives were:

  • create caring homes and neighbourhoods
  • To make sure neighbours know each other
  • To create telephone contacts and networks
  • To share information about crime and community activities
  • To answer cries for help
  • To arrange self defence classes and first aid classes
  • To give practical advice on making homes safe
  • To motivate the community
  • To lower crime rates
  • To build better community and Police relations


History of Neighbourhood Support in Manawatu

Manawatu District Neighbourhood Support has come about through the Safer Manawatu project.

Safer Manawatu (the operating name for the Manawatu District Safer Community Council) was set up in 1994 under the umbrella of Manawatu District Council. In 1999, Safer Manawatu became an Incorporated Society to better serve its community. We were able to seek funding from other sources to be effective in providing crime prevention projects to be delivered in the community. There were approximately 56 Safer Community Councils throughout New Zealand all run differently according to community resources and need.

The basic principle of SCC is ‘community solutions to community safety issues’. Although the main focus is crime prevention, we know that many factors outside the crime and justice sphere impact on crime and community safety. The Safer Community Council is a forum where a proactive and positive coordinated approach is between both government and non-government agencies in the area of crime prevention. Therefore, our members include representatives from education, welfare and Police, sports, media, conservation, churches, health, Maori development, youth development, local government and the community.

The key role of the Safer Community Council is the ability to establish core community partnerships that provide opportunities for individuals and groups to coordinate resources. These resources have been defined for clearer understanding as to the functions of a Safer Community Council. Resources can be funds, knowledge, or information about sectors of the community, policy, programme development and best practice, and/or evaluation.

The Safer Community Council in conjunction with the New Zealand Police have boosted a number of crime prevention projects such as Neighbourhood Support urban and rural, family violence initiatives “heroes don’t hit” and MAIN in collaboration with Te Manawa Services Charitable Trust, Hot Tips for Parenting (promoting tools for good parenting), youth offending initiatives in collaboration with Feilding & District Youth Board “skills programme”, and the Young Achiever’s Award (changing negative behaviour and encouraging positive youth role models).

In 2003 the Crime Prevention Unit of the Ministry of Justice undertook a nationwide review into the delivery of crime prevention initiatives. As a result, CPU made the decision to provide funding in the Manawatu District for ‘specific crime prevention projects’ by establishing a direct working relationship with the Manawatu District Council.

Since the establishment of this relationship the Council and CPU have worked closely together to launch the best approach for our community, in conjunction with service providers that had been identified through the Safer Community Council process. In the past the Safer Community Councils were the identified link between CPU and the Council to deliver crime prevention initiatives.

SCC Future

From the 1st of July 2004, the Safer Community Council has become known as a service provider to establish the Neighbourhood Support Group Network for the Manawatu District. The extent of other services being provided by Safer Manawatu will still continue.

The goals of Safer Manawatu were:

  • To expand the NSG network throughout the Manawatu District;
  • To dramatically improve communication systems between Police and NSG;
  • To assist Police to reduce crime throughout the Manawatu District;
  • To seek information from community on crime prevention related issues and problems;
  • To raise public awareness of the need for Neighbourhood Support;
  • To promote Manawatu District Neighbourhood Support (Safer Manawatu)