Reflecting the overall New Zealand mood of recent years, Wellington is less positive than two years ago – but respondents agree that it’s still a great place to live.
Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says that through the tough economic climate Wellington has seen smaller drops than other centres in key quality of life indicators. “We anticipated this survey could reflect the prevailing uncertainty but Wellingtonians remain more positive about their prospects compared to people in other centres.”
The biennial Quality of Life survey measures the perceptions of over 5000 residents living in four of the country’s largest urban areas. Conducted by research company Nielsen, the survey is jointly funded by the participating councils, and is part of the wider Quality of Life in New Zealand’s Largest Cities project.
Local authorities that participated in the quality of life survey were Auckland Council, Hutt, Porirua, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin city councils.
Wellington’s positive results were seen across a wide range of areas – from personal happiness and health to civic pride, to acceptance of diversity and use of public transport. Wellington was particularly strong in its enthusiasm for its arts scene.
Notable results for Wellington were:
- 88% report their overall quality of life positively.
- 30% feel their quality of life has improved over the past 12 months.
- 78% are satisfied or very satisfied with their life (higher than the average across the six cities).
- 95% feel safe in their homes after dark.
- 75% feel safe walking in their neighbourhood after dark.
- 65% feel safe in the CBD after dark (considerably higher than the six-city average).
- 75% believe an increasing number of people with different lifestyles makes Wellington a better place to live (significantly higher than other cities).
- 89% feel the city has a culturally rich and diverse arts scene.
- 93% agree Wellington is a great place to live.
- 86% feel a sense of pride in the city.
- 39% are frequent users (two or more times a week) of public transport (nearly twice as high as the six-cities average).
- 84% believe our public transport is safe to use and 87% believe it’s easy to get to.
Direct comparisons with previous years’ figures are problematic because the survey methodology has changed from phone-based to online surveys. Researchers know that such a change makes people likely to answer less positively.
Mayor Wade-Brown says that, as in previous years, good results should be balanced by acknowledging there is still work to be done.
“Perceptions about the affordability of public transport are still an issue – only 44% of people believe our public transport is affordable. Affordability is obviously a key concern to people in these challenging economic times.”
The other real concerns that emerged from the survey were alcohol and drugs, and graffiti or tagging – 71% believe alcohol/drugs are a problem in Wellington, while 78% feel graffiti/tagging is a problem.
“Our own recent research showed there’s a perception of too much drunkenness in the city, and we’re working on an alcohol management strategy to address that. It’s a complex issue – New Zealand’s drinking culture is under the spotlight and we need to take action at a local and national level.”
Survey respondents also reported feeling less confident in Council decision-making. Nevertheless, Wellington’s levels of confidence are higher than Auckland or Christchurch – and above the six-city average.
“More real engagement with people from suburbs, the inner-city and with business must be a greater priority and we’ll make a start with better Annual Plan consultations and we’re developing a new online ‘peoples panel’.”
Mayor Wade-Brown says “Wellington’s rich arts scene and cultural variety continue to be a source of pride. Wellington has long been acknowledged as the arts capital. It’s a city where creativity flourishes, and where people want to live, work and play.
“The international recognition the city received late last year with the win in the UN-endorsed International Awards for Liveable Communities, or LivCom, reflects our liveability.”