Meet Julia


No Blackpool ahau

I tipu ake au i Tāmaki Makaurau

E noho ana au kei Whaingaroa

Ko Julia Cardwell toku ingoa

E mihi ana.

Julia is passionate about community gardens and the benefits of bringing communities together. Julia has been instigating and facilitating community get togethers in different shapes and forms for over 10 years.  She is honoured to be working as a Connector for Neighbours Aotearoa.

Julia is our Neighbours Aotearoa Connector for Waikato

Meet Mariana

Te-Whanganui-a-Tara, Wellington

With a background in Communication and Psychology, Mariana has always been interested in the ways communities connect and coexist. In Mexico, her experience includes working for the government, film festivals and organising events about how women can be more involved in STEAM.

Here in New Zealand, her new home, she has been working with an NGO, former refugees and migrants, and she volunteers for a radio program. Mariana is excited about finding ways communities can preserve and honour their own cultures while understanding others.

Mariana is our Neighbours Aotearoa Connector for Te-Whanganui-a-Tara, Wellington.

Meet Ange

Te Awa Kairangi, Hutt Valley

Ange has lived in Te Awa Kairangi for the past 20 years, moving here from growing up on a market garden and orchard in the Nelson area.

She loved seeing communities connect through food, music and art. For the past 9 years she has been part of The Petone Depot - a community venue, kitchen and gallery that she helped create. It is an accessible space in the heart of Petone that enables and encourages various community enriching events and activities to happen, such as open mic nights, gigs, exhibitions, koha cafe, monthly crop-swaps, boardgaming nights, Boomerang Bag making, etc

She is also a founder of Seeds to Feeds", a charity activating various Wellington neighbourhoods into growing more local food, forming stronger community connections, and culminating in a ‘Feed’ event during a festival week at the end of summer, celebrating and showcasing their locally grown produce.

"I’m really excited to be part of Neighbours Aotearoa and get stuck into lending a hand, and
seeing even more neighbourly goodness and connections grow and flourish in the Hutt Valley." - Ange

Ange is a Neighbours Aotearoa Connector based in Te Awa Kairangi, Hutt Valley

Meet Elayne


A networker, active and involved in her community.

Elayne moved to New Zealand from New Mexico in the US in 2000 in search of outdoor adventures and to take up a position with the Ministry of Education. Community-minded and
involved in her local area, she writes a ‘get to know your neighbour’ article for the Oakura POST, a monthly newspaper. She is passionate about promoting diversity and inclusion, and that there should be ample opportunities for people to engage with their community, regardless
of their age, ethnicity, socio-economics or handicapping challenges. She adores her two pet
goats and has been doing research and interviews for a book on the positive aspects of older
people taking care of animals.

She has a ‘mini farm’ on a 1/2 acre section and does her part to promote sustainable living. She likes to be active - plays pickleball, takes short walks along the beach and longer tramps when she can and is getting back into bicycling. She loves to read and regularly attends film festival
type movies that are shown at her local art gallery theatre.

Elayne is a Neighbours Aotearoa Connector for Taranaki.

Meet Alana

Ōtepoti, Dunedin

Alana has been hooked on community development since volunteering on projects in her teens. For the last seven years she has been working on a range of youth and place-based community development projects. In her spare time you can find her in a vegetable garden, walking in the bush, or spending time with her friends.

She has an interest in community projects that provide opportunities to connect people, involve youth, address waste issues, or enhance food resiliency. Initiatives that empower marginalised communities or address systemic issues by starting small. 

"Communities are strong and resilient when people know their neighbours and use their collective assets to work ground up. Connecting with your neighbours can be scary, we need something that is going to break the ice. Let Neighbours Aotearoa be your “excuse” for sharing and connecting this year. If you are not sure how to do that in Otepoti, let me walk with you." - Alana

Alana is a Neighbours Aotearoa Connector based in Ōtepoti, Dunedin.

Meet Amy

Te Awa Kairangi ki uta, Northern Hutt Valley

Curious human with a big heart 

Amy is a people person, passionate about building inclusive, compassionate communities. She is a collector of stories and ideas. This is her first year as a connector and she is very excited to see what is possible through Neighbours Aotearoa. She enjoys being in the garden and walking along the Hutt River/Te Awa Kairangi.

Amy is a Neighbours Aotearoa Connector based in Te Awa Kairangi ki uta, Northern Hutt Valley.

Meet Martine

Whakatu, Nelson

Visionary, facilitator, space designer

Martine is a broad ‘big picture’ thinker who doesn’t mind dealing with the details. Her background lies in many strands of community work, including having been two-term councillor/
community board member with Tasman District Council. Her passion is for ground-up, local initiatives such as co-housing, community gardens, parallel systems and sharing economies. From a little girl she has envisioned ‘the more beautiful world we all know is possible’ and sees
that that paradigm-shift time is now. She enjoys frivolous play, theatre, singing, dancing and
stand-up comedy.

Decluttering and co-creating ambient spaces is her gig. She loves hubs,
collectives and inspired co-creations - so Neighbours Aotearoa is a perfect fit.

Martine is a Neighbours Aotearoa Connector based in Whakatu, Nelson.

Meet Wilby

Ōtautahi, Christchurch

Ko Wilby Le Heux tōku ingoa

Nō Airangi tōku tupuna

Ko Addington taku kainga

Wilby is excited about creating opportunities to help neighbors connect with each other in Ōtautahi. He is passionate about seeing communities flourish with tūmanako. Over the past 8 years he has developed skills in facilitating community-led development in community garden spaces and youth spaces. Within the community you will find him in the marā kai growing kamo kamo, tomatoes, and other heirloom veges.

Helping him stay grounded and balanced is his passion for surfing & the moana.

Wilby is a Neighbours Aotearoa Connector based in Ōtautahi, Christchurch

Meet Stu

Waiariki, Rotorua, Bay of Plenty

Ko Stu Herewini toku ingoa

Ko Waiariki taku waahi mahi 

Ko Rotorua ki te kainga

Stu is committed to making sure Neighbours Aotearoa will always have a connector in Rotorua. His goal for 2023 is to increase the connector work force in the Waiariki area. Stu is involved in a few projects in and around the wider Rotorua community, allowing him to promote and discuss this Neighboring Aotearoa 'kaupapa'.

Stu says: “All these projects involve a collective of community stakeholders who assist me in co-designing the governing, managing and working models we have in place. The key point of difference is the 'matauranga maori' protocol and practices within these working models. Manaaki mai, manaaki atu, manaaki ora.”

Stu is a Neighbours Aotearoa Connector based in Waiariki, Rotorua, Bay of Plenty.

Meet Rachel

Ahuriri/Napier, Hawke's Bay

Curious, Creative, Coach.

Rachel has been helping people to develop and grow for over twenty-five years and is now a Leadership, Mindfulness and Emotional Resilience Coach. She is into the energy of mountain biking and playing with her dog Luna. She loves swimming and relaxing in the hot pools, and relishes in the creativity of cooking from garden-to-table.  Within the community you will find her supporting regeneration of nature and beach clean up projects.

Rachel is a Neighbours Aotearoa Connector based in Ahuriri/Napier.

Meet Kristi

Whangārei and Kaipara

Navigator, networker and facilitator.

Kristi is excited about creating opportunities to help neighbours connect with each other in Kaipara and Whangārei.  

She is passionate about our people, our community, gardening, the environment, community development, community enhancement, community empowerment, healthy eating, lifestyles and relationships.

Kristi is excited about creating opportunities to help neighbours connect with each other in Kaipara and Whangārei.  It is time to activate and/or reactivate to grow, connect and strengthen our networks and neighbourhoods.

Kristi is a Neighbours Aotearoa Connector for Kaipara and Whangārei.

Meet Melissa

Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland

World traveler, linguist, creative cook, and tree hugger.

Melissa is a Canadian New Zealander. She calls West Auckland home. Melissa loves making friends wherever she goes. Her goal is to use her love of languages and cultures to help the people and the planet. Melissa is fluent in Spanish and French, she can communicate in Mandarin Chinese, and she can survive in NZSL. She's currently studying Te Reo Māori.  Helping neighbours and communities connect is something Melissa is very passionate about.

He aroha whakatō, he aroha puta mai. (If love is sown, love is received.)

Melissa is a Neighbours Aotearoa Connector for West Auckland.

Meet Chris

Te Moana-a-Toi, Bay of Plenty

Initiator, repurposer, beach walker and lover of sunshine.

Chris has been involved in the community sector since the eighties, firstly in Australia and then in the Bay of Plenty. Chris has a passion for sustainable housing and was involved in the community housing sector for nearly 20 years. Over the last few years, Chris has been the Coordinator for COLAB Te Puke. COLAB is  a community led collective comprising individuals and organisations collaborating to achieve a thriving sustainable community. COLAB’s current focus is youth development, building community cohesion and resilience and kai sovereignty.

Chris is a Neighbours Aotearoa Connector for the Te Puke Maketu ward (Western Bay of Plenty).

Meet Sacha

Te-Whanganui-a-Tara, Wellington

Networker, communicator and bold go-get-this-party-started human.

Sacha is originally from Amsterdam, but made Aotearoa home over 20 years ago. She lives with two wonderful teenagers in Berhampore, Te-Whanganui-a-Tara. Sacha is a celebrant, a death walker and she has been working in events, marketing and PR for over 25 years. She has a passion for art, music and community development projects. Her pride and joy is the community library out their front door and the pātaka kai out their back gate.

Sacha is a Neighbours Aotearoa Lead Connector based in Te-Whanganui-a-Tara, Wellington.

Meet Lucette

Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland

Creator, meditator, nature-lover.

Lucette has been involved in the arts and community sectors for over twenty years, with a particular interest in community-led projects addressing climate change, waste reduction and environmental issues. She’s right into empowering, grass-roots, creative stuff.

Lucette is a Neighbours Aotearoa Lead Connector based in Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland.

Meet Cissy

The Neighbours Aotearoa kaupapa is led by experienced Community Developer Cissy Rock since 2018. Cissy has been working alongside community for over 15 years in various roles with local government and community organisations.

Meet Harriet

Creative thinker, doer, prolific list maker. Harriet is the project manager behind Neighbours Aotearoa - she makes sure everything happens when it should! Harriet has extensive experience working in the non-profit sector in marketing, fundraising, and event roles.

Meet Duncan

Regular walker, daily reader, thoughtful approach. Duncan specialises in organisational development and advises on fundraising, budgeting, technology solutions and planning for Neighbours Aotearoa.