News | 25 May 2022

The Pōneke Promise: One year in

When we launched the Pōneke Promise in May 2021, we made a commitment to make our city a safer, more vibrant, welcoming place to be. Its now been a year, and we’ve delivered some great initiatives and changes for the city. We’re moving in the right direction, but we’re just getting started.

Three people walking across Te Aro park in Wellington.

Flash back to 12 months ago when the community came together to tell us they didn’t feel safe out and about in the city anymore – they asked us to step up and make safety a priority.   

Our data backed up these concerns. Te Aro Park, Courtenay Place and the surrounding areas were looking and feeling unsafe, and we could see there were things we could change to improve the look and feel of the central city.  

Through the Pōneke Promise, we set out on a mission to address this. However, we recognised that these issues could not be solved by Council alone.  

The Pōneke Promise is a partnership between:

By sharing information and working closely together to develop and deliver solutions, we’re able to effectively work towards the same goal; we want Wellington to feel safe, vibrant and welcoming for everyone.

'Collaborating makes the job easier'  

The ongoing benefits of the partnership approach are clear to NZ Police Wellington Area Commander, Inspector Dean Silvester. 

“One of the best things about the Pōneke Promise has been its ability to bring various organisations together, with the single united purpose of increasing safety in Wellington city. Collaborating makes the job easier and ultimately it means better outcomes for the community," says Dean.

We’ve had some great wins, including opening two new community spaces and growing our network of capable guardians, but we are just getting started and look forward to delivering more projects and growing the programme. In line with that, we recently welcomed Victoria University and the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) on board. 

Wellington City Council Chief Executive Barbara McKerrow says continuing to build strong partnerships is key to the ongoing success of the programme.  

“There are a lot of factors at play in the central city, which is why it's important we have a strong team of Partners to address city safety across the board. This shared ownership of the programme and a commitment to delivery is what makes the Pōneke Promise so unique and so strong.” 

What we’ve delivered so far  

  • Increased lighting on Courtenay Place and Opera House Lane. 
  • An after-midnight bus service from Metlink/GWRC at off-peak prices. 
  • A deep clean of the area, and an increased street cleaning schedule. 
  • Developing the Safer Venues partnership with Hospitality NZ and RespectEd, to provide training for hospitality workers when handling sexual assault in their premises. 
  • Increased Police presence and enforcement of the alcohol ban, with raised awareness of the ban through the Know Your City Limit campaign. 
  • Opened Te Wāhi Āwhina – community support base at 117 Manners Street, and Te Pokapū Hapori – the central city community centre at 105 Manners Street. 
  • Increased capable guardians in the city, with more eyes on Te Aro Park and Hāpai Ake connecting with retailers and the street community. 
  • Strong retail support from First Retail and Chamber of Commerce. 
  • A new centralised City Safety CCTV Control Room that provides an essential service in capturing, coordinating and sharing information in real-time with our Partners: the Police, Hāpai Ake and community patrols.
  • The Wellington City Mission opened transitional housing facility Te Pā Pori on Tory Street.
  • Increased funding for Take 10 – a safe space for young people out in town, where they can drink water, play some games or just charge their phone. They’re now out on Courtenay Place both Friday and Saturday nights.
  • Changes underway to improve the safety and vibrancy of Dixon Street. We’ll be extending the footpath, adding parklets to support outdoor dining and installing planter boxes and a couple of speed bumps. 
Artist render of Dixon Street with new planters on the street.

What’s up next  

We’ve got a busy 12-18 months ahead including some urban design changes to Dixon Street and Te Aro Park to improve safety, demolition and relocation of the Te Aro Park toilets and continued work through our Sexual Violence Prevention Action Plan, including Safer Venues –  a workshop programme designed to upskill hospitality workers to recognise and respond to sexual violence when they see it.    

To read more about the Pōneke Promise and what’s ahead, visit wellington.govt.nz/ponekepromise.  

To keep up to date with the Pōneke Promise and what our Partners are up to, subscribe to our newsletter at wellington.govt.nz/enewsletters.