News | 20 December 2022

Courtenay Place: Safe for the summer

With Covid restrictions a thing of the past, it’s going to be a big summer for our inner-city party precinct. We’re working with our partners to ensure Courtenay Place is a safe and welcoming place for everybody over the busy festive season.

Two people standing outside the St James.

Courtenay Place is at the heart of the Pōneke Promise – our joint programme to improve safety in the central city. The party precinct boasts vibrant nightlife, but due to the nature of alcohol consumption in a condensed area, that doesn’t come without risk.

The Pōneke Promise partnership seeks to reduce harm through a holistic approach to improving the overall safety and vibrancy of the area. We all want Courtenay Place to be a fun experience for everyone, whether it’s after-work drinks, a big night on the town, or dinner and a trip to the theatre.  

We’ve been working with NZ Police to identify hotspots where we can put short term safety improvements in place. We’re installing targeted lighting in known pre-drinking hotspots and installing more Know Your City Limit signage to remind people of the liquor ban. We’ve done a targeted deep clean in Courtenay Place and are working with our street cleaning team to increase the frequency of rubbish collection in the small hours.  

We’re also partnering with Wellington Free Ambulance and NZ Police to have two paramedics out to support Police officers on Friday and Saturday nights between 9pm-5am. This enables them to de-escalate and provide medical treatment in situations involving alcohol-fuelled harm before things get out of hand. 

The Safer Venues programme, an outcome of the Sexual Violence Prevention Action Plan, has been busy upskilling bar staff on how to recognise, prevent and respond to instances of sexual harassment on licenced premises.  

Te Aro Park tree.

Creating a sense of safety is also about more than just Police presence and physical changes to the built environment. The power of a good atmosphere was identified when community/advocacy groups including the Wellington Alliance Against Sexual Violence joined us on an urban design hīkoi to discuss what makes young people feel safer in Courtenay Place after dark.

Live music and the buzz of people in an area contributes to the kind of atmosphere where people feel safe. Buskers can play from 9pm until 3am in the morning with a busking permit in this area.  

Take 10 operate in the Courtenay Plaza, and they noticed that live music did a lot for the overall vibe of the area.   

Take 10 offers a spot to take a break from the pubs and the clubs, recharge, reconnect and rehydrate. It has between 800-5500 people come through each Friday or Saturday night. We’re anticipating those numbers are going to be pretty big this summer, especially during February and March with Orientation Week as we welcome new students to our city.

We’re talking with local universities and students’ associations about how we can support them to make O-Week safer than ever before - through sexual violence prevention trainings, a positive sexual consent campaign, and safe spaces. 

Creating a vibrant city that feels safe for everybody is a priority for Wellington City Council and underpins our overall city vision. As well as these changes to make Courtenay Place safer over summer, we’re also working on longer-term projects as part of the Pōneke Promise, including the Sexual Violence Prevention Action Plan and Safer Venues Programme, as well as further design improvements to Te Aro Park.  

Read more about the Pōneke Promise programme on our website.