Sustainable Neighbourhoods Programme

An environmental and community partnering programme.

The Whau River Catchment Trust (WRCT) is currently the Auckland Council’s Sustainable Neighbourhoods programme facilitator for the Whau River Catchment, and provides advice and practical help so that communities can improve their environments and become more sustainable.

Projects are initiated by at least three households or properties and are self-managed by community members, with one or two community members sharing a spokesperson or voluntary neighbourhood Coordinator role. Council assigns a facilitator from community organisations, such as the WRCT, to each neighbourhood to assist the neighbourhoods in achieving their own goals. As a facilitator we help you define your project’s goals, prepare an action plan, facilitate meetings, organise events, grow and retain interest in the neighbourhood.

The council can also support your project by supplying products, plants, equipment or services, providing training and advice, building networks with other Sustainable Neighbourhoods and help to monitor and evaluate beneficial changes to the environment.

Neighbourhood projects typically start with an environmental restoration focus – eradicating environmental weeds and planting native plants to improve stream health and encourage birds and wildlife. The programme also supports eco-city initiatives like community gardens, fruit tree planting on public land, neighbourhood composting facilities and more. In addition to the environmental benefits, the SN program also has significant social, economic and cultural benefits. Neighbourhood objectives may also include protection of heritage features, pedestrian safety, household insulation, transport planning, stormwater works or septic tank upgrades.

The programme has grown from two pilot neighbourhoods in 2008 to 55 participating neighbourhoods (approximately 340 households) in May 2011 with community stewardship of over 300 hectares of public and private land. One of the desired outcomes of the programme is that after approximately three years of facilitation, programmes have strong community backing and neighbourhood groups have sufficient technical and leadership skills to become self-sustaining.

If you would like to initiate a project in your neighbourhood please contact Natalie Wilkinson at natalie@whauriver.org.nz or phone 09) 827-3374 during office hours.