Wayne Brown: Mayor of Auckland

Auckland is around 5,600 km² big, and my wife and I have moved five times—all within one square kilometre—right here in Ponsonby. I think it shows how much we love this part of Auckland.

So, we were devastated by the shooting tragedy that left people feeling unsafe in this place we enjoy so much. It was really sad to feel the heightened unrest. So I went out of my way to go out and about in our local neighbourhood more than we usually do, to do the opposite of what people normally do in these circumstances.

I made a point of spending more time at Chapel Bar & Bistro to show that what happened there is not the norm and to show my support for the place. Many business owners were also on heightened alert following the tragedy. I hope they are feeling a bit more of a sense of normality and calm as the weeks pass.

Before this event, I had made a point of funding two safety initiatives directly from my office to make our city and our region safer for everyone in it. My office has approved funding to support compliance wardens to start regional patrols in Auckland.

They are part of our city and region safety watch that was missing. The wardens already patrolling our streets are the eyes and ears, if you will, and are able to call on compliance wardens to enforce council bylaws and to address low-level antisocial behaviour such as breaches of the liquor ban, obstruction, and general nuisance.

I provided another $570,000 at a combined approach that considers crime reduction, social wellbeing, and the activation of public spaces. That money has provided for a City Safety Coordinator who will facilitate the safety hubs and help support the recruitment and operation of the volunteer community patrols who will use the hubs: Community Patrols NZ, Māori, Pacific and community wardens, and ethnic patrol groups.

Dedicated outreach staff to address homelessness within the CBD have also been brought on board with the funding, as well as an investment in monitoring CCTVs as a method of crime prevention. There has also been an expansion of CityWatch, with 12 new recruits onboarded this week, allowing active patrol of hotspots using the increased CCTV monitoring.

Many business associations are also doing a great job of providing security for their local businesses, some not so much. I’d like to see some regions pick up their game here.

City safety is important, and these issues are complex. We must strike a balance between enforcement and support. My office has a sensible plan here that considers crime reduction, social wellbeing, and the activation of public spaces. All three form a more lively and safer city for Aucklanders.

Every Aucklander should feel safe when in their local town centres and using public transport. This is just a band-aid solution, and we need additional government resourcing through police and mental health to make a long-term difference.

In the meantime, I am looking forward to getting the Ponsonby Park underway. (Wayne Brown)

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Published: May 2024