Our Wellington

News | 26 March 2021

Social contract aims for safer city

Wellington City Council, Greater Wellington Regional Council, the city’s hospitality industry, retailers, and Police have launched a social contract asking Wellingtonians to join them to help make the central city safer.

Courtenay Place at night.

The social contract asks everyone to commit to taking collective action to address the safety issues in Wellington’s CBD.

Mayor Andy Foster says Wellingtonians love their city and everyone should feel accepted, understood, and safe.

“We want a vibrant, inclusive CBD, so we’re asking Wellingtonians to join the city’s hospitality and retail sectors and Police in supporting a new social contract for Wellington. This means promising to act in a way which will collectively deliver a safer and compassionate city both during the day and at night,” says Mayor Foster.

“We’ll be working with central government, mana whenua, Police, hospitality operators, retailers, NGOs, universities, Chamber of Commerce, building owners and more. Everyone has something to bring to the table – big or small.

“Wellington is not alone with the problems it is experiencing. Cities around New Zealand and the world are facing similar challenges, including an increase in anti-social behaviour, social isolation, and striving to make our cities safe places for women and our diverse communities.

“As a collective we’re going to start with some key commitments which we will build on over the weeks and months ahead.”

Wellington’s hospitality industry is introducing a code of conduct for patrons and operators, as well as employing security liaison staff to work alongside door people at the city’s bars and restaurants. Hospitality operator Matt McLaughlin says the industry has a large part to play in helping make the city a safe place to enjoy.

“We work really hard on our host responsibilities and adding a few extra layers and working in partnership with Police, the Council and government can help re-establish Wellington as a world class city after dark.

“We're working through our ‘code of conduct’ that we expect not only venues to adhere to but importantly our customers. We want the minority of unruly visitors to our city to know that poor behaviour is not OK and it won’t be tolerated,” says Matt.

“We're also working on a blanket trespass notice that may see some people banned from all licensed venues in the Te Aro area. We will be in regular contact with Police and Council camera operators to keep a much closer eye on what’s happening on our streets.”

Wellington Police Area Commander Inspector Dean Silvester says Police fully support the social contract and will be proactively monitoring the liquor ban in the CBD.

Councillor Tamatha Paul, the Council’s City Safety Portfolio Lead, wants to thank all the brave people who have spoken up about their experiences of feeling unsafe in Wellington.

“We need to all watch out for our mates, and each other to have a good, safe time and to get home safely. Active bystander intervention plays a massive role in preventing harm in the community,” says Councillor Paul.

“Wellington has a proud history of tolerance and inclusiveness. This is a chance for all of us to pledge to lead the way in making our city as safe as it can be. This includes continuing to work with central government to ensure that vulnerable inner-city residents have the support they need.”

The City Council’s commitments include:

  • Opening up a community base in an empty shop in the Opera House, to provide a presence for community partners, including social agencies, in the central city
  • An immediate $95,000 spending increase for Take 10 – to continue to provide a late-night safe zone in Courtenay Place on Friday and Saturday nights
  • Bringing forward the conversion of street lighting in Courtenay Place to LEDs, which can be altered for brightness, from 2026 to next financial year
  • A commitment to improving the design and location of the Te Aro park toilets.

Daran Ponter, Chair of Greater Wellington, says the Regional Council fully supports the safer city initiative and is actively working with its partners on a number of activities.

“We completely support the social contract and collective action approach. We are all in this together and, as part of our commitment, we are already looking to review the full range of public transport night services we currently have serving our communities.

“We want to ensure they still deliver for our communities, strengthen them wherever necessary, so they can continue to provide a safe and valued service for the people that rely on them every day.”

Chris Wilkinson, Managing Director of First Retail Group, says Wellington businesses recognise that a collaborative approach is necessary. “We are keen to support the Council, Police and social agencies help make Wellington CBD a safer and more inviting place to be.”