Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Wellington community space opens with blessing

Te Wāhi Āwhina, a community support space in Manners Street, has officially opened following a dawn blessing this morning.

Te Wāhi Āwhina is one of the Council’s commitments to The Pōneke Promise – a joint social contract launched in April with Greater Wellington Regional Council, the City’s hospitality industry, retailers, and Police.

Wellington Mayor, Andy Foster says The Pōneke Promise is a combined response to keeping the city safe.

“The opening of Te Wāhi Āwhina is one of the Council’s pledges to the Pōneke Promise,” the Mayor said.

“It’s also an action following on from the release of a Police and Wellington City Council report last September on safety in and around Te Aro Park. Wellingtonians love their city, and everyone should feel accepted, understood, and safe.”

Located next to the Opera House across the road from Te Aro Park, Te Wāhi Āwhina provides an inner-city presence for key social agencies, meaning the City’s vulnerable communities will have easier access to these agencies.

Te Wāhi Āwhina Police at blessing event

Agencies that will be located at Te Wāhi Āwhina include the Ministry of Social Development (MSD), Downtown Community Ministry (DCM), City Mission, CCDHB, and Metlink. It will also provide a base for city guardians like Māori Wardens and Local Hosts, and a site for Police to utilise too.

Councillor Tamatha Paul, the Council’s City Safety Portfolio Lead, says the perception of the city not being safe is not an issue unique to Wellington.

“We’re not alone. Cities around Aotearoa, and the world, are facing the same challenges of anti-social behaviour and an increase in sexual and physical violence. The Pōneke Promise is our commitment to collectively deliver a safer, more vibrant, and compassionate city,” Ms Paul said.

“But we (partners) can’t do this alone. We need all Wellingtonians to help by committing to do their part in making our city a great place to live, work and play again.”

Te Wāhi Āwhina blessing in alleyway

In addition to the opening of Te Wāhi Āwhina, partners of The Pōneke Promise have committed to a range of initiatives, including;

  • An immediate $95,000 spending increase for Take 10 – to continue to provide a late-night safe zone in Courtenay Place on Friday and Saturday nights.
  • Bringing forward the conversion of street lighting in Courtenay Place to LEDs, which can be altered for brightness, from 2026 to the next financial year.
  • Improving the design and location of the Te Aro Park toilets, including demolition of the toilets at their current site.
  • Reviewing the full range of public transport night services.
  • Proactively monitoring the Alcohol-free Zones in the city and helping educate people about where they can or can’t drink in the City.
  • Introducing a code of conduct for customers and operators in the hospitality sector.
  • Employing a security liaison to work alongside door staff in the hospitality sector.
  • Trialling a parking solution for taxis on Courtenay Place on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights to keep patrons, pedestrians and bus passengers safe.
Te Wāhi Āwhina Ariki Brightwell artwork

A mural by local Māori artist Ariki Brightwell has been painted on Te Wāhi Āwhina’s back wall. It portrays the history of Te Aro Park, formerly Te Aro Pā, and the awa that passed through this area, Waimapihi Stream, and the idea behind Te Wāhi Āwhina to support the community to connect with services.

Additional art work at the site comes from Council supported Vincent’s Art Workshop.

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