Whanganui regains international accreditation for safety efforts

Whanganui received re-accreditation on Thursday, giving it designated International Safe Community status.

Whanganui first received accreditation in 2010.

Accreditors arrived in town in the morning and attended presentations to understand more about the Safer Whanganui plan, before going on site visits to the fire station and Gonville Library, and signing the designation with Mayor Annette Main.

"I'm really proud of the whole team," Ms Main said.


At the presentation, Senior Sergeant Andrew McDonald answered questions from the accreditors about a screening process Whanganui Police have been trialling for two years.

The process is a questionnaire designed to direct people into services to address potential causes of their offending.

Whanganui's White Ribbon march organisers also gave a presentation about the annual campaign against violence towards women.

Deputy Mayor Hamish McDouall commented, saying the march was getting bigger each year, and it was good to see "the entirety of City College" join in the event.

"You can't show any direct result from it but you're planting the seeds with those young men," he said.

Nga Tai o te Awa's Jay Rerekura said the march wasn't just for men in the anti-violence industry, but it was also for men who had "violent pasts".

This included "men that have walked alongside us and that have instigated violence afterwards", he said.

"It's a journey."

Jigsaw Whanganui executive officer Tim Metcalfe said self-referrals to their family support service spiked following White Ribbon marches in Whanganui.

Whanganui Women's Network manager Carla Donson spoke of one occasion where an older woman who attended the march and listened to other people's stories burst into tears and revealed for the first time she was a victim of domestic violence.

"We were able to wrap support around her," Ms Donson said.

Ms Main said the presentations came about after they sent an application to the Safe Communities Foundation of New Zealand to be re-accredited.

"There were questions that came back," she said. The presentations were to answer the questions.

Ms Main is also the chair of Safer Whanganui, which is a community-owned, council-mandated project bringing together a diverse group of Whanganui-based government, non-government, community and iwi/Maori organisations across a variety of sectors to tackle issues affecting the safety of Whanganui people. The Safer Whanganui plan was launched in 2009 and identifies social issues in Whanganui that make it a less safe place to live and comes up with an action plan to tackle each of these issues.

At Thursday's re-accreditation, Whanganui received a new plaque to show the International Safe Community status.

"Last time, we had two different plaques with two different spellings of our name."

Ms Main was pleased with the work everyone had done to make Whanganui safer.

"We're making huge strides and I think that we're leading the way, once again, leading the way in New Zealand for the programmes that we've got in place."

She said it was a "fantastic way to be ending my time as mayor".