Whangarei's most precious gem is set to get a full appraisal, as the Jewel in the City survey kicks off and will see members of the city's Youth Advisory Group (YAG) observing and interviewing people using the 11 amenity sites around the Hatea Loop Walkway.
From tomorrow, members of the Whangarei District Council (WDC) group will conduct interviews with those using the public spaces and amenities between the Canopy Bridge and William Fraser Memorial Park at Pohe Island.
This is the fourth annual survey. Last year, more than 1000 people were asked what they considered the area did, didn't or should provide. Since then, the spaces have seen improvements such as water fountains, art works and vital lighting.
Carla Janssen, community services advisor with the council, who convenes YAG, said the five-strong team will interview random people between tomorrow and February 2, before filing a report to council by February 24. The results would be published on the WDC website at the end of February.
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"It's a utility survey, observing and counting in 11 spots around the Hatea Loop. From lighting to water fountains, there have been changes since last year's report. It's an important survey that allows our council to see who is using the spaces, where they are from and what they would like to improve."
The sites were the Canopy Bridge, Town Basin, playground, Art Park, Hihiaua-Waka and Wave, Kotuitui Whitianga footbridge and Port Road Walkway and the Te Matau a Pohe bridge. The survey would also include the dog park, family BMX track and skate park.
Vanamali Joseph, 18, was undertaking his second survey and thought the project was worthwhile to inform council. He said the YAG was also a wonderful medium which allowed young voices to be heard at council.
Rebeca McKean, 18, was taking part in the project for the first time.
"The Jewel in the City Survey is a big focus for the youth advisory group because young people use this space a lot, from the BMX track to walking."
Meanwhile, Molly Alford, 18, has been canvassing people for three years and said it was an important way to let council hear what the public wants.
Last year, WAG discovered that 77.7 per cent of people using the spaces were local, mostly adults with children, with an equal gender balance and half of those visiting weekly.