Whanganui is a few years ahead of the Australian capital, Canberra, when it comes to restorative practices, Gordon Ramsay says.

He is the Attorney-General of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), a city of 400,000 (Canberra) which functions like a state. Whanganui is New Zealand's first Restorative City, and he wanted to find out how to make Canberra one too.

He spent Friday morning hearing how restorative practices work with Mayor Hamish McDouall. Whanganui District Council has a restorative code of practice which means it makes respectful relationships a priority.

That's not easy in a council, Ramsay said, where things can get tense.


In the afternoon, Ramsay met with Whanganui Restorative Practices Trust chairwoman Jenny Saywood, and others, to hear more. Saywood had visited Canberra two years ago.

He heard about a workplace, unnamed, where relationships broke down and became strained. People with restorative practices training came in and facilitated.

"People were heard," he said.

"They named what was happening that was inappropriate. They restored the workplace to being strong and productive."

Ramsay also heard how some pupils at a Whanganui school, who were at odds, sat down in a circle and talked it out.

He said ACT has a Labour/Greens government that is stable and progressive. In 2015 it resolved to make Canberra a restorative city.

Restorative justice opportunities are built into the ACT justice system, as they are in most Australian states, and Ramsay has been a member of a restorative practices group in Canberra for a decade.

While in New Zealand, he will also talk to Finance Minister Grant Robertson about the Wellbeing Budget, because ACT is attempting one next year. And he will visit a drug and alcohol court in Auckland and spend time in Wellington, Canberra's sister city.