Wednesday, 28 September 2011


What is community? I suspect it takes many forms and has no one look about it and yet it seems to me that it must have some form that makes it different than other living things. When I think about the things it means to me, it feels like people knowing each other and having a relationship simply because of something we share – it certainly does not need to be a physical place as we all know about design communities, on-line communities, etc. and in all of these we share some sense of connection. And it is the fabric of what we share collectively that seems important to me.

In Lyttelton, here are some of the things I think we share. I would love to see others to add to my thinking as I would love to see what you think we share and what makes us a community. 
I would love to hear what others think of what makes their community as well.

I think we share a love of this beautiful environment that we live in – the steep sloping hills and the view of the harbour. I also love the fact that this is a working port and that simple fact will not allow this place to get too trendy or ritzy. I am not sure we all share this love. I think we share a love of the essence of what we all think Lyttelton is – and I don’t think we would all agree what that essence is, however, I think many of us would say its ‘gritty honesty’, its eclectic nature and its amazing creativity - in so many forms. I love that we all have different things that we love and though they are different – we are all passionately about them.

I think many people love it because this is where their family hails from for many generations and they grew up fishing off the docks, flying down the steep streets in their homemade racers, and knowing that their families are not far from them at all times. I don’t have those same memories, but they are mine as well because I have heard them so often. I can’t claim them, and I love the images just the same. I think what I love most is that I don’t ever feel alone here – that if I have a need, someone is always there to help me out.

I am a wanderer who has come upon this place and shall stay here now – my wondering has come to an end because I have found my place- my community

written by Sarah van der Burch


  1. An interesting thought - what is community? I think like gathers like and though, as you say, individuals have their own ideas about why they stay in a place, the thing that ties them is that they must for some reason like being there. They have chosen to stop there, set up a home and live there. And usually it is because they like the feel of the place. And they like each other!

    Lyttelton does have a sense of community - even for an outsider. I think it is because it is actively nurtured in Lyttelton, though it does exist in Christchurch - at least in my patch on the Port Hills.

    I come from the UK and people ask me why I stay in Christchurch - even after the quakes. And it is indeed to do with community. The way my neighbours have always been friendly and rallied round after the quakes. The feeling that in my circle of friends if I needed something I could call on them. Then there are the small things about Kiwi life that add up to a lot - the honesty of sales assistants, the way you can book a hotel on your word alone, the willingness of strangers to welcome you into their hearts. Add to that the most stunningly beautiful view of the sky and ocean - and why would I ever want to live anywhere else?

  2. Stoneweaver - Thanks for your thoughts.

    I think so much of this feeling of community we desire comes from a deep desire to belong and to have a sense of belonging - a sense that we are all interconnected and here for something more than remembering to buy some more milk at the shop. We seem to have felt this for some times as ages ago we named ourselves through where we came from - Henry of Hastings.

    I think I feel a sense of belonging when I feel that belonging inside myself - that it is my own feelings of contentment or not that create what I see outside of myself. Does that make sense? And yes when I look at the hills around my house and the water outside the inner harbour, I feel so amazingly blessed to live here! Sarah

  3. By nature we depend on people, by nature we need community to live. All of us are part of nature and luckily we have become together in the same place finding happiness and wanting to share, and I felt that connection when we moved here.
    I have never been in a place where almost everyone has the same feelings as I do, and when you cross someone walking there is a smile in between.
    I think, there is nothing better than to express community through our culture with the motivation of a better living as social beings, i have found those positive vibrations in Lyttelton

  4. What a beautiful place you live in!
    Love your thoughts, and those in the comments. Making ourselves at home, coming home, that's what community is about for me. Home is a place made up of many factors: the view, the sounds, the smell, the neighbors... It's mostly because of the neighbors that one has to make oneself at home all over again, every day. And that's a good thing.