Safety and standard of living get high scores in Whanganui survey

Published on 06 October 2020

Kowhai Park

High numbers of residents say they feel Whanganui offers a good standard of living and is a safe place to live, according to Whanganui District Council’s annual Community Views Survey, presented to the council’s Strategy and Finance Committee today.

Of 500 residents canvassed by research company Versus, 81% of residents stated they were either satisfied or very satisfied with regard to living in Whanganui; 80% of residents rated their standard of living as good or extremely good; 97% of respondents reported feeling safe at home during the day all or most of the time; 93% reported feeling safe all or most of the time at night; and 93% of respondents felt safe all the time in the CBD during the day.

The survey was conducted by telephone or online and took place during the weeks either side of the COVID-19 national emergency and lockdown. It is considered likely this will have had some impact on the results, although the exact effects are not known. The results have an estimated margin of error of +/- 4.38%.  

According to today’s report, participation in cultural and sporting activities and use of related facilities has gradually decreased over the past 10 years, in line with national trends. Similarly slow declines over time have occurred in perceptions of the performance of the Mayor and Councillors, access to information and responsiveness to community needs.  

Meanwhile performance of Council staff and community use of walkways showed upward trends. In separate measurements, statistics from walkway usage counters showed usage spiked during the period of the lockdowns in Whanganui, in one case rising as high as a 93% increase.  

Whanganui District Mayor Hamish McDouall said, “There are some really, really good results here. Perceptions of safety in the CBD during the day are over 90%, which is fantastic.”

He said, “It’s always good to get a read on what the community thinks. A survey like this provides us with a valuable opportunity for 360° self-reflection. I would like to see higher results for community involvement in decision-making, but this is a challenge that is not unique to us. I do invite elected officials to think about why perception of our performance has gone down. Let’s work harder to be seen as cohesive and responsive.”

Councillor Josh Chandulal-Mackay, chairing the committee, took the opportunity to promote a programme of community conversation events currently offered in Whanganui as part of pre-engagement on the council’s Long-Term Plan 2021-2031.

He said, “These engagement events offer a real opportunity for elected members to be more visible in the community.”

Elected members agreed that results of the survey should help to inform the Long-Term Plan 2021-2031.

Tagged as: