A “game-changing moment” is how Mayor Tania Tapsell describes the opening of the Rotorua Inner-City Community Safety Hub.
She opened space on Hinemoa St, near the Tūtānekai St intersection, on Monday.
Rotorua Lakes Council said in a media release on Monday that businesses and people coming into the inner-city could “feel confident that there is a robust system in place to keep them safe”.
The hub would be used as a co-ordination point for community safety groups including police, the council’s Safe City Guardians team and Māori Wardens. It would be open to the public and operate from 8am to 5pm on weekdays on 8am to 1pm on Saturdays.
At the opening, Tapsell said the hub was a “classic demonstration” of how the council planned to “tackle the big issues” and ensure the town had a “positive” future.
She said the partnership model was “unique” and it was a pleasure to bring the organisations together.
“What we’ve seen across the country is with the issues in crime and social disorder. Everyone’s trying really hard to fix it on their own.”
She said it was a “exciting adventure being able to work together”.
Tapsell said locals could expect to see an “increase in visibility and also responsiveness in the inner city”.
Rotorua Police area commander Inspector Herby Ngawhika said the “ultimate thing is having a safe community”.
“For us that starts with our CBD. [If the] CBD is safe, then that has a flow-on effect,” Ngawhika said.
“We’ve got our Christmas period coming up now, so we want to hit the ground running on this. It’s just about police being out in the community but actually engaging with our people.”
In the council’s statement, Ngawhika said the community constable planned to start his mornings at the hub sharing information and co-ordinating with the guardians and Māori wardens.
Rotorua and Waiariki Māori Wardens chairperson Tangihaere Gloria HariHari-Hughes said the hub was about “all of us working together around the safety of the community”.
HariHari-Hughes said wardens followed “three ‘Ps”: presence, protection and prosecution.
She said they hoped the new presence would “avoid having people prosecuted”.
Rotorua MP Todd McClay said it was important people could feel safe and secure bringing their families downtown.
“We need to send a very clear signal that we’re going to put in the effort and the resources to take our city back … ”
Rotorua Business Chamber chief executive Bryce Heard said the new establishment was “consistent with our view of the future” and hoped “foot traffic” in the city would increase.
Andrew Wilson, chief executive of tourism and economic development agency RotoruaNZ, said tourism was “rebounding back really strongly” in the city.
“We’re going to have a [great] summer, there’s plenty of visitors booked and heading into town.
“The town’s looking fantastic.”
Michaela Pointon is an NZME reporter based in the Bay of Plenty and was formerly a feature writer.