News | 4 March 2024
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Safer pathways for students in Pōneke

With over 30,000 first year students coming to study in Wellington and travelling between their university campus and the CBD, Wellington City Council has partnered with the Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association (VUWSA) to support student-led initiatives, including making some of the most used walkways into town safer.

Person walking down a pathway at night with fairy lights strung up on the wall.

The Safer Pathways initiative is a partnership between VUWSA and Wellington City Council as part of the Pōneke Promise’s Sexual Violence Prevention Action Plan. This aims to make the key routes between the university campus and the central city more appealing for students to move through. 

To do this, the team at Te Herenga Waka - Victoria University of Wellington have identified student hotspots and routes between their largest student campus and the central city. Students have taken the time to hang fairy lights on the Mount Street Pathway down towards the Dixon Street Steps and the Te Puni Pathway down towards Buller Street, and Council teams made sure the area was clean and tidy.

To support this, decals (stickers) with important messaging about teaching the principles of consent were placed on the pathways.

Sexual Violence Prevention Project Lead Jahla Lawrence says that people tend to feel safer if there is a sense of guardianship in the area.

Students walking down an alleyway.

“If places are used by peers, they feel like nicer spaces to be in. By encouraging students to use these routes, adding lights, cleaning them up to be a bit neater, and displaying important key messages through decals – we hope that they feel a bit safer for students to use.”

Making an area feel more welcoming is one of the key principles of Crime Prevention Through Urban Design (CPTED), says Jahla. 

“CPTED shows how spaces that are cleaner, brighter, busier, and feel invested in – makes users feel safer. CPTED approaches are generally not to be used in isolation and isn’t the only approach we are using to prevent sexual violence in Pōneke, but it sits sit alongside a wide range of initiatives being done as part of the Pōneke Promise to create a safer city." 

The safer pathways work is one of the many collaborative projects between Council’s harm prevention team, community partners and stakeholders. 

Close up of people's feet as they walk down a road with a decal on the pathway.

Last year, the Council partnered with local student organisations during O-Week to support them to design a sexual violence prevention campaign focused on educating young people on positive sexual consent in hook-up culture – More than a Yes, the same campaign that is on the footpath decals.

Another project as part of the Pōneke Promise was the second base for Take 10, opened during O-Week in an unoccupied site in Courtenay Place. Take 10 provides a safe space and friendly faces for young people on Friday and Saturday nights, providing additional kaitiaki presence during the busiest time of year. 

Te Herenga Waka - Victoria University  is a partner in the Pōneke Promise and provide a night shuttle back to the campus – which Take 10 helps students use.

The Pōneke Promise has a focus on working together to help students have a safe and positive experience in the city. There are plans to work alongside Te Tira Ahu Pae, the Massey Students Association, later in the year to explore how to bring the project to the Massey Wellington campus.

Visit our website to see the Sexual Violence Prevention Action Plan or to learn more about the Pōneke Promise