Capital Shines - But We Can't Rest on Our Laurels

10 May 2011

Wellington has again done well in the country's latest urban quality-of-life survey - confirming what Wellingtonians have long known - that our compact, cosmopolitan Capital is a safe and attractive place and we are active and inclusive, enthusiastic and environmentally-aware.

That's according to Mayor Celia Wade-Brown, who is proud of the fact the Capital has so many positive results across a range of areas - from civic pride and personal happiness and safety, to use of public transport, enthusiasm for the arts, appreciation of diversity - even the willingness of Wellingtonians to tackle climate change.

The biennial Quality of Life survey measures the perceptions of over 6,000 residents living in eight of the country's largest cities, from Auckland to Dunedin. Conducted by research company Nielsen, the survey is jointly funded by the relevant councils, and is part of the wider Quality of Life in New Zealand's Largest Cities project. It measures progress in our well-being.

Local authorities that participated were the new Auckland Council, Hamilton, Tauranga, Hutt City, Porirua, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.

Wellington has particularly positive results in the following:

  • 36% believe their quality of life has improved over the past 12 months
  • 89% are satisfied or very satisfied with their life
  • 97% feel safe in their homes after dark
  • 83% feel safe walking in their neighbourhood after dark
  • 75% feel safe in the central business district after dark
  • 80% feel that the increasing diversity of people makes the city a better place
  • 93% feel the city has a culturally rich and diverse arts scene
  • 69% feel the public has some or a lot of influence on council decisions
  • 87% feel they have a sense of pride in the city
  • Only 7% believe the city has an air-pollution problem
  • 37% believe we have problems with water pollution
  • 82% believe they would change their lifestyles to help prevent global warming if they knew it would make a difference
  • 37% of us are frequent users of public transport - far out in front of everyone else
  • 86% believe our public transport is safe to use.

Mayor Wade-Brown says she is particularly pleased with the great results in the area of personal safety. "The Council has been working hard with the Police and with the likes of the hospitality sector, the universities and other interest groups in recent years to enhance safety. This is a top priority - and it will continue, with Council actions on issues like safety-enhancing urban design and good lighting.

"These results make it easier for us to welcome visitors, students and new residents."

Despite the generally good results, some problems remain.

Mayor Wade-Brown says it is great to see that Wellingtonians continue to be, by far, the country's most regular users of public transport.

However she is "very concerned" by the troubling results on the affordability of public transport - shared by most of the cities in the survey.

"It confirms my view that we have to invest in public transport and make it a top priority. Wellington City Council will propose more bus priority lanes and build more shelters. I urge Greater Wellington Regional Council, the bus companies and the Government to keep fares more affordable.

"When fuel prices are again going through the roof, public transport must be available, attractive - and affordable."

Mayor Wade-Brown says she is not surprised that Wellingtonians form the most environmentally aware population in the country - and are prepared to act to deal with climate change.

"Wellingtonians are, generally, educated, aware and in touch with world events. That's why the survey tends to indicate we are more likely to do something personally to help stave off global warming."

She is glad the efforts to position Wellington as the country's events and arts Capital continue to be supported by local people - with 93% feeling the city has a culturally rich and diverse arts scene - far ahead of the results in other cities. "The arts and events scene is firmly embedded as one of our main points of difference. Wellington City Council has to continue to see this area as a priority because it is now such a large source of employment in the city. We ignore the arts, events and creative industries at our peril."

Wellington also has the highest results in terms of embracing ethnic and cultural diversity. The Quality of Life survey results suggest high levels of appreciation of diversity among New Zealand's city dwellers, with almost two-thirds (63 percent) of respondents feeling that the increasing number of people living in New Zealand with different lifestyles and cultures made their city a 'better' or 'much better' place to live. 

Respondents living in Wellington city were even more likely than other cities to feel this way (80 percent). "Wellington is a very diverse city - befitting its status as the country's Capital," says Mayor Wade-Brown. "Our ethnic diversity is a great advantage - culturally and also economically."