News | 4 October 2022

Exploring the party precinct with a safety lens

The party precinct. The strip between Courtenay Place and Manners Street. It’s a core part of Wellington city that has a constant stream of people. We visited the precinct after dark to find out first hand where we can make safety improvements, to ensure it’s a vibrant and inclusive space for all.

Group of six people walking down Courtenay Place in Wellington.

In August, a team from Wellington City Council and the Wellington Alliance Against Sexual Violence (WAASV) went on a night-time hīkoi (walk) to get a better understanding of how areas of the city could contribute to feeling unsafe or for potential harm to occur. This was a follow-up to the daytime hīkoi that was done earlier in the year to see how the area could be revitalised.  

The insights from the walk-throughs will guide the continued outcomes of the Pōneke Promise, a coordinated, community driven initiative to keep our city safe.  

These hīkoi are part of the Sexual Violence Prevention Action Plan (SVPAP), which is focused on primary prevention – or prevention of violence before it happens, says Wellington City Council Sexual Violence Prevention Lead Jahla Lawrence. 

“The SVPAP and its networks are facilitating the application of a sexual violence prevention lens on urban design changes – a key ask of the Wellington Alliance Against Sexual Violence at the 2021 LetUsLive rally.” 

Group of six people walking down an alley.

The hīkoi involved a number of people from different organisations including Wellington City Council staff, WAASV, Thursdays in Black VUW, the National Disabled Student Association, RespectEd Aotearoa, Student Associations from Massey University and Te Herenga Waka - Victoria University of Wellington, and Let's Get Wellington Moving (LGWM). 

The information gathered from a range of different groups on the hīkoi will be used by the Council’s Urban Design team and the Pōneke Promise programme to inform future decisions on the design of public spaces, says Jahla. 

“We understand people can feel unsafe in the city, so we looked at factors that could be at play from lighting, footpaths, and how people behave. We took note of how participants with marginalised identities such as those from the rainbow and disabled community and how they experienced being in the city, as well as focusing on how we could improve the space.” 

Group of six people standing on a street corner.

The hīkoi also provided a space for young people to share their innovative ideas on how space could be made to feel safer, says Jahla. 

“A lot of our young people emphasised how art in a space could help them feel like somebody cared about that area. When someone cares about a space, you feel safer in it because you feel like there are eyes on it.” 

Co-President of Massey at Wellington Students' Association Elizabeth Hodgson says the hīkoi was a way to unpick and understand how tauira (students) lives are being affected when they are not at the university.  

“As we move forward, the work being done at Wellington City Council will create safer spaces for our tauira to pass through as they experience the nightlife of Pōneke. It is important to us that they know they are safe in town and there are resources for them to turn to if there are issues.” 

Group of people standing around a wooden table.

It will also influence future urban design in the city and feed into a variety of public space improvement and transport accessibility projects, like LGWM's Golden Mile project, says Emily Alleway from LGWM. 

“Hearing people’s experiences first hand at the hīkoi and gaining a deeper understanding of how urban spaces are used at different times of day is of huge value in shaping and refining projects with a ‘people first’ approach to designing spaces and connections.” 

All these outcomes and insights will be used by the team to further guide the Pōneke Promise, to make the city a safer, vibrant and inviting place to be.