Housing, friends and parks and open spaces are some of the most important things to maintain wellbeing in Whanganui.
That’s according to a Whanganui District Council survey in which people also shared what they want for the district in the future.
Results were broken down into the core focus areas, or “wellbeings”, of local government - cultural, environmental, social and economic.
Speaking to the council’s strategy and policy committee, council programme manager Robyn Vickery said in the environmental category, people wanted modernisation of playgrounds, native planting and development of walkways.
Clean drinking water and flood protection were also seen as important.
More events and better nightlife were suggestions in the social category.
“For the economic [category, priorities were] business support and growth - attracting businesses both large and small and providing the support for those to thrive,” Vickery said.
She said respondents wanted a district with liveable wages and job security, and more information and acceptance across all cultural events and celebrations.
Parks and open spaces were noted by 82 per cent of respondents as having a positive influence on environmental wellbeing, with 72 per cent saying friends were important to social wellbeing and 68 per cent rating housing as important to economic wellbeing.
In the cultural category, 68 per cent selected health and wellbeing activities as being important while, at the other end of the scale, 30 per cent of people thought religious and spiritual groups were important.
When asked if they were familiar with Te Awa Tupua legislation and values, 51 per cent of respondents said they weren’t and 45 per cent said they didn’t want to learn more about them. Te Awa Tupua is the 2017 Whanganui River legislation, which granted the river legal personhood status.
In terms of issues the council “should be getting on with right now”, local infrastructure and amenities, community togetherness, business development, employment and addressing the cost of living crisis came out on top, Vickery said.
The environmental category was seen as the most important “wellbeing”, with the cultural category coming in last.
Council policy manager Elise Broadbent said the council hadn’t done as well as it wanted regarding reaching demographics such as the Pasifika and Asian communities for the survey.
“It’s an ongoing challenge that we will take up,” she said.
A report on the survey said gaining responses from ethnic minorities was an area where improvement was needed, with response rates mostly sitting below 1 per cent.
In all, 661 people responded - 63 per cent Pākehā and 22 per cent Māori.
Less than three per cent were under 18 or over 80 years old.
The survey was launched in September and ran for five weeks, with the council running 15 engagement events in the district.
Vickery said in general, feedback was generally positive, with people grateful to have the chance to be involved and have their say.
Results will be used to inform the council’s updated Leading Edge Strategy, which goes to public consultation in March 2024.
Mike Tweed is an assistant news director and multi-media journalist at the Whanganui Chronicle. Since starting in March 2020, he has dabbled in everything from sport to music. At present, his focus is local government, primarily Whanganui District Council.