Safer Whanganui

Safer Whanganui logo

Safer Whanganui is a community-led coalition of agencies and groups working in partnership to provide leadership and direction for the promotion of community safety in Whanganui.

Chaired by Whanganui District Councillor Kate Joblin, the high-level Safer Whanganui governance group includes representatives from the council as well as iwi, Ministry of Education, New Zealand Police, Horizons Regional Council, Whanganui District Health Board, Sport Whanganui, Ministry of Social Development, Fire and Emergency New Zealand, Corrections and children’s, business and community representatives.

Safer Whanganui also has seven specialist reference groups which work on addressing issues like road safety, family violence, safety and well-being, alcohol and drugs, emergency planning, justice and housing.

Our community was awarded International Safe Community status in 2010. In 2016, Whanganui was formally re-accredited as a Safe Community within the Pan-Pacific Safe Communities network, which consists of about 100 Safe Communities across New Zealand, the United States, Australia and Canada. All Safer Communities aim to reduce and prevent injury and crime and to build strong, cohesive, vibrant and participatory communities.

In 2016 Safer Whanganui participated in a national pilot programme to show we are making a difference, not only in the Whanganui community but also against national indicators.

The World Health Organization recognises the Safe Community model as an important mechanism for promoting the implementation of evidence-based action for violence and injuries. Our status was made possible by an outstanding collaboration of community partners, agencies and organisations focused around a common goal.

The council’s commitment to Safer Whanganui is shown by its funding of a full-time manager and inclusion of Safer Whanganui in its 10-year plan.

Free electric blanket testing

This is a project that Safer Whanganui and the Safety & Well-being Reference Group have supported at the Whanganui Fire Station for the past three years. In 2016, 376 blankets were tested and 74 failed; in 2017 574 blankets were tested and 94 failed; and in 2018 540 blankets were tested and 6% failed.

While this is a great service to provide to the community as a lead-up to winter, it also is an opportunity to provide education on not only the care of electric blankets over the summer months but also other home safety devices like smoke alarms. Reducing fire risk in homes from faulty electric blankets is a positive for the community.

Smoke alarm testing

Whanganui has had a high number of house fires over the past four years. Many of these homes did not have smoke alarms or working smoke alarms so the Safety and Well-being Reference Group took on a project to increase the number of working smoke alarms in our homes.

Family Fun Day

Family Fun Day is a free family event for all families. It was started in 2016 and is run annually. The aim is to provide a free, interactive, fun family event with a focus on home safety.

Safekids Aotearoa bring their safety whare down from Auckland to the Family Fun Day so people can walk around the interactive house and look at all the potential hazards. The fire service provide fun activities for the tamariki and at the same time talk to them and their parents about home safety, smoke alarms and home escape plans. This event has attracted over 1,500 people and the Safety & Well-being Reference Group within Safer Whanganui has committed to making this bigger each year.

Family safety concerns everyone in our community and it is everyone's responsibility.

This is especially important when it comes to issues which can be difficult to talk about such as family violence. Family violence affects people of all ages, all incomes, all cultures and there are many people affected in our community. Family violence affects us all directly or indirectly. Any behaviour that makes someone else feel controlled and fearful is never OK. Everyone in a family should feel safe and nurtured.

What is family violence?

Family violence includes abuse and neglect. The law sees it as an abuse of human rights and it is a crime. Violence and abuse happens in many ways:

  • Physical
  • Emotional
  • Verbal
  • Threats
  • Intimidation
  • Sexual
  • Financial
  • Neglect
  • Battering

Children who see or hear family violence of any kind can suffer long-term or lifelong consequences.

It is OK to ask for help

We may feel powerless when we know family violence is happening or when we are involved in it, but it is OK to ask for help.

Positive change is possible. People can make the choice to stop their violence and live violence free.

Remember you are not alone. There are always skilled people in our community ready and able to help everyone involved. 

It is OK to ask for help when:

  • you are worried about relationships in your family. Every person in a family deserves to be treated with respect. When people are blaming, criticising, arguing or withdrawing then family relationships and people get damaged. 
  • you or other family members are scared or frightened. Are you at risk? Sometimes it's hard to know how serious things are getting. If you are scared or frightened about you or others being hurt, then it is already serious. 
  • you don't like your own behaviour. If family members show fear of you, find you hard to talk to or feel they have to do what you want them to, you need to consider changing your behaviour. 
  • you are worried about someone else and want to know how to help them. This could be a friend, neighbour, family member, child's friend, or workmate. Often people who are experiencing violence feel isolated and ashamed. Your support could be vital. 

It is OK to help

The Family Violence Intervention Network offers free It Is OK to Help workshops because often when there's family violence, people want to help but don't know how. Are you:

  • worried about how the kids down the road are being treated?
  • not sure what to say to a colleague who comes to work with bruises?
  • wondering what to do about your niece whose new boyfriend is controlling her every move?

Please call Whanganui Family Violence Intervention Network co-ordinator Lorraine Sheenagh on 027 234 3875.

What can you do?

Come and find out at a free workshop designed to help you – as a family member, friend, neighbour or workmate – know more about family violence and learn how to help effectively and safely.

The workshop will cover:

  • How to recognise family violence.
  • What you can do and say.
  • What support services are available.


  • People want help from those around them first.
  • Everyone can do something to help stop family violence.
  • What we do and say can make a difference.

To take part, please call the Whanganui Family Violence Intervention Network co-ordinator on 027 234 3875.

Whanganui Family Violence Intervention Network

The Whanganui Family Violence Intervention Network comprises more than 40 statutory, iwi and community organisations actively working to prevent and address the ongoing impacts of violence within our homes, whānau and families. 

The purpose of the Whanganui Violence Intervention Network is to:

  • Increase awareness of what family violence is and what help is available.
  • Develop community-wide understanding and effective helping in response to family violence.
  • Strengthen the collaboration of local agencies working with family members.

If you, or someone you know is in danger, phone 111

Agencies offering 24/7 services

Police – phone 111 
Women's Refuge – 06 344 2204 or 0800 733 843

Free helplines offering 24/7 services

  • For concerns about children's safety and well-being – 0508 326 459 (Oranga Tamariki).
  • Crimestoppers (giving information about crime without revealing your identity) – 0800 555 111 
  • Rape & Sexual Abuse Crisis support line – 0800 88 33 00 (Safe to Talk - 0800 044 334)
  • Shakti (for migrant women) – 0800 742 584


Local support services

The following agencies also work in rural Whanganui:

  • Police
  • Women's Refuge Whanganui
  • Jigsaw Whanganui

Free helplines

  • Family Violence Information Line – 0800 456 450, any day, 9.00am to 11.00pm
  • Shine (confidential domestic abuse helpline) – 0508 744 633 + NZ Relay service (for deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired), any day, 9.00am to 11.00pm
  • What's Up Free Helpline – 0800 942 8787 for anyone ages 5 to 18. Monday to Friday, 12.00pm to 11.00pm and Saturday, 3.00pm to 11.00pm. 

See the top of this page for free helplines offering 24/7 services. 

Language line free phone interpreting

Language Line provides interpreting (44 languages) for the following services listed above: Whanganui Police, Family Violence Information Line, Shine, and Child, Youth & Family. You say "Language Line, please" and then say the language you need. Wait for two minutes for an interpreter. Monday–Friday 9.00 am to 6.00 pm & Saturday 9.00 am to 2.00 pm.

Online help for non-urgent help is provided by:

More information

  • New Zealand Police: How to deal with family violence
  • If you would like this information on a poster or in an electronic information sheet, please call 06 347 7992 and ask for the VIN co-ordinator. There is a general Information Sheet, and one for People Living with Disabilities, and one for Young People & Youth Workers. You can also call Whanganui Family Violence Intervention Network co-ordinator Lorraine Sheenagh on 027 234 3875.   

Below is some useful information about staying safe while enjoying some of Whanganui's popular swim spots over the summer months. Check the safe swim spots map for up-to-date information about water quality and potential safety risks before heading out.

Wharf Street boat ramp 

This area is generally unsafe for swimming while boats are being launched. Boats are unable to stop suddenly and there is a high risk of serious injury if swimmers become caught in a boat's propeller wash and are struck by a propeller.

The water level in this part of the river changes very dramatically. Hidden logs and other debris drift into the area and can make swimming hazardous.

Rowing pontoons

Most rowing clubs are OK with swimmers using their pontoons as long as they respect the rowers as they get their boats in and out of the water. 

Negotiating swimmers while carrying a heavy boat could result in injury to both swimmer and rower, as well as damage to the boat.

City Bridge

We don't actively encourage jumping off the City Bridge into the river. However, if you are going to do this please take care. Check the water for obstacles before you jump. This includes logs and debris as well as rowers and other water craft who use the river frequently during summer. Take care as you come up onto the bridge as there is a lot of traffic.


We have two patrolled beaches – Castlecliff and Kai Iwi (Mowhanau) beaches. Both beaches are patrolled by Wanganui Surf Lifesaving Lifeguards from 12 noon to 6.00pm each day over the summer. Please swim between the flags and listen to the lifeguards, who are there to keep you safe. Keep clear of the cliffs at Kai Iwi beach as they are prone to slipping. 

Information about rip currents

A rip current is outgoing current on a surf beach that can quickly carry swimmers away from the shore. They are a common occurrence on Whanganui's coastline. Swimmers are advised to avoid swimming in or near a rip current.

A rip is identified by:

  • discoloured or murky brown water caused by sand stirred up off the bottom
  • a smoother surface with much smaller waves, with waves breaking either side
  • debris floating out to sea
  • a rippled look, when the water around is generally calm.

Mosquito Point

While enjoying Mosquito Point, please check for debris, such as logs, on the river and monitor swimming conditions, particularly after heavy rain. It is also important to look out for other users to make sure everyone is safe and can enjoy this great swimming spot together.

Have fun at any of our swimming areas in the region this summer, and remember to check the safe swim spots map for up-to-date information about water quality and potential safety risks before heading out.

Whanganui has had a high number of house fires over the past four years. Many of these homes did not have smoke alarms or working smoke alarms. Use our online referral form if you need support to get your smoke alarms installed.