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National award for Orion Street neighbourhood group

Published: 5 December 2018

A little bit of love has gone a long way to making Papakura’s Orion Street a champion.

Saddled with a reputation as a tough neighbourhood, residents decided to take action to improve their local area. Baggie Sandra Tilyard got to work, knocking on doors and pulling out all the stops to form a Neighbourhood Support Group.

Resident Tua Browne joined the cause, rallying support with Baggie. 

The group has been so successful that the Orion Street Neighbourhood Support Group has been named “Champion of the Year” at the Neighbourhood Support New Zealand AGM Awards.

“There’s no getting away from the fact we were a bit of a magnet for antisocial behavior and a lot of us were sick of it,” Baggie says.

“It’s taken a lot of hard work but it’s gone from a place with a bad reputation to one with a connected community where neighbours look out for each other.”

Tua says Orion Street is a “small street with a big heart”.

“We knocked on a lot of doors and every house has its own story. It was a case of encouraging people to get out there and love their neighbours and we have reaped the result of that, with the climate of fear that surrounded the place gone, and people who are now proud to say they are part of Team Orion.

“It’s too easy to forget that there are always more good people than bad.”

Supported by Papakura Local Board, chair Brent Catchpole was on hand to see the group receive its award.

“Your reward is not a certificate, it’s knowing you have helped create a safer place where you look out for each other. A community – not just a street.”

In the group’s first two years, crime in the street dropped dramatically, and there are now even more prevention initiatives in place, with Orion Street set to make further gains.

“You have helped put Neighbourhood Support back on the map,” constable Steve Brown says. “We are able to use you as a great example for other areas of what can be achieved.”

Locals now have their own Facebook page and meet regularly, and are reaching out to nearby streets to support their efforts to form similar groups.

“A little bit of love, a smattering of aroha, goes a long way,” Tua says.