Sense of community

Why is this important?

Having a sense of community with others in one’s neighbourhood can include elements such as “community spirit or membership, influence, reinforcement, emotional safety, community boundaries, sense of belonging, trust, shared emotional connections, and quality interactions” (Canterbury DHB (2018) Canterbury Wellbeing Index). When these elements exist in local neighbourhoods the result is a strong social structure that improves community wellbeing and health outcomes.

Key points

  • Results from the 2018 Canterbury Wellbeing Survey show that half (50%) of those living in Greater Christchurch agree (strongly agree or agree) that they feel a ‘sense of community with others in my neighbourhood’. There is a statistically significant decline overall in this proportion from 2012 to 2018.

Note this is an interactive chart and you can click on the legend items to change what is shown on the graph.


Residents living in Selwyn District (59.1%) continue to feel the strongest sense of community with others in their neighbourhood, while residents of Christchurch City (47.7%) continue to feel the weakest sense of community. The sense of community among Waimakariri District residents (55.4%) increased slightly from June 2017.Those more likely to agree they feel a sense of community with others in their neighbourhood (49.6%) are:

  • Aged 65 years or over (62.2%)
  • From a household with an income of more than $100,000 (54.6%)

Data notes

The Canterbury Wellbeing Index was developed by the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) and produced in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

The Index’s purpose was to monitor social recovery from the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010 and 2011.

The Canterbury Wellbeing Survey (formerly CERA Wellbeing Survey) is a major data source for the Index.  The Survey’s purpose is to inform the monitoring of earthquake recovery by collecting data from greater Christchurch residents on self-reported wellbeing, impacts of the earthquakes, and perceptions of the recovery.

With the disestablishment of CERA in April 2016, the Ministry of Health inherited responsibility for both the Canterbury Wellbeing Index and Survey, which was subsequently delegated to the Canterbury District Health Board (Canterbury DHB).

As time has passed since the earthquakes, the emphasis of both the Index and Survey has shifted to also incorporate a broader focus on wellbeing and factors that influence wellbeing.

A substantial review of the Canterbury Wellbeing Index was undertaken by the Canterbury DHB in 2018 and it was re-launched as a website in late 2018.

The May 2018 survey is the eleventh Wellbeing Survey undertaken. The initial survey was conducted in September 2012 with six monthly surveys. From June 2017 onwards the survey is being conducted annually.

Data information and downloads

Data Source

Canterbury Wellbeing Index link) Sense of Community(external link)

Data Access

All tables/charts show Greater Christchurch and TA level data


Date Updated

September 2018. Next survey May 2019

Data Download

Download the tables here(external link) found under Social Capital – Sense of Community

Page Updated

May 2019

Data breakdowns available 

Geographic  Area

Greater Christchurch urban area


Territorial Authority (urban area) - Christchurch City Council, Waimakariri District Council, Selwyn District Council

Other variables

Respondents who felt a sense of community with others in their neighbourhood by Age, Ethnicity, Gender, Household Income, Health condition or disability

Links to other information and reports

Information about the Canterbury wellbeing survey(external link) and accompanying index

Information about the quality of life project(external link) that surveys residents in New Zealand’s largest cities

Information about the New Zealand General Social Survey(external link) that asks questions about wellbeing

Statistics NZ findings(external link) about the connections to neighbourhoods