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Rural Neighbourhood Support in Whakatane
16 June 2008
by Roger Eynon

During the course of the joint conference 2008, I was fortunate to speak to many delegates and coordinators throughout New Zealand and I hope they were just as happy to speak to me. Each and every one of them had a story, anecdote or best practice to share but have perhaps not felt that they had the voice or the means to share it.

I spoke at length with Trish - over afternoon tea on the Saturday (14/06/2008) and she shared a number of things with me. Here is the result and her words are in italics.

Rural Neighbourhood support is alive and well in the Whakatane District. My name is Trish Anderson and I am area coordinator for the Awakaponga/Manawahae areas as well as Chair for the Whakatane NS Trust.

We have had a few occasions to get Alerts out to the more rural areas and I am lucky enough to have two fabulous rural delivery drivers who will deliver our alerts and our rural newsletters free of charge, most RD drivers will charge per copy sometimes up to 50 cents per copy and to have to pay for 150 copies is to say the least a lot beyond our means.

So to those of you who do live rurally and if you are on good terms with your RD driver ask him or her if they would deliver your newsletter’s or Alerts free of charge for Neighbourhood support.

Observation and alertness is a feature of our rural community. A little time ago now, our local police rang me to ask if we had heard or seen a particularly noisy vehicle, being a specific colour, drive past our home.

Yes! We had heard this vehicle and it certainly stood out by the noise it made and we had seen it earlier in the day cruising up and down our road. I rang a neighbour about 500 metres further up - and - yes....... he had heard and seen it about 15 minutes beforehand going up the road.

In the meantime, the two police officers arrived at our house one of whom lived a few kilometers up the road. We told him that the vehicle had been seen and heard and approximately when that was. He then called his wife, described the noise of the car and that she had also heard it about 5 minutes before. So off the intrepid cops go in search of this vehicle as it had been seen after a burglary earlier in the day.

The vehicle was finally stopped in the early hours of the morning and upon checking it out there was found a “shopping list” taped to the drivers sun visor listing what was wanted - mostly hand tools etc,. Thanks to the keen ears and observation of two of my group members these people were caught.

I have found that in our rural community a lot of the farmers are quite trusting about security. There is a tendency to go out on the farm and leave their homes open often with their cars unlocked and some will even leave the keys in their vehicles. This is a focus that I frequently return to in my newsletters but the practice still continues.

Christmas time is a prime example of this; decorations are up, farmers are out on the farm or in town. There have been incidents where the families return home to find that Christmas has been taken lock, stock and barrel - by someone else.

It would have only they had taken one extra minute to lock up the house and windows.

A lot of rural burglaries may go unreported as farmers will use something during the summer season, put it away for the next summer and then go back to find that it is not there anymore. Because they have no idea when it was taken they don’t bother to report it missing so there may be more crime, rurally, than is actually being reported.

Thanks to Trish for her best practice and her personal experiences. The sharp eyes and ears of the rural Neighbourhood Support group and their network of contacts ensured that a crime spree did not continue on this occasion.

Trish clearly points out that there are individuals who will look for opportunities to relieve you of your possessions. It's best to be safe than sorry and also to remind your neighbours to be of the same mind.

Trish identified another way to get rural alerts out to isolated areas where internet does not work too well. I thought it important to share this best practice with those who access this site and trust that it may give you food for thought.

I would also like to point out that this is a forum for you to have a voice and share your experiences, best practice and tales with other visitors to this site. Please feel free to let me have your submissions so I can consider for posting here.

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