• Napier Assist Āwhina Tāngata to provide a helping hand

Napier Assist Āwhina Tāngata to provide a helping hand

From Monday, a group of dedicated kaitiaki will keep a watchful eye over Napier city, ensuring locals and visitors have safe and enjoyable experiences.

Napier Mayor Kirsten Wise says the Napier Assist Āwhina Tāngata service is about partnership, with Council working closely with Police, Napier City Business Inc, Hawke’s Bay District Health, Ahuriri Māori Wardens, and Whatever it Takes Trust.

“Together we’ve made sure Napier Assist Āwhina Tāngata will be a friendly and welcoming presence in our city,” Wise says.

“It’s fantastic to see the initiative come to fruition, from being an idea in Council’s Long Term Plan. It will make a significant contribution to vibrancy in our city alongside other Council initiatives.”

“The Napier community made it very clear in recent consultations that they wanted to feel more safe in their city, and more than 75 per cent of submitters supported proposals for an ambassador programme and upgraded CCTV,” Wise says.

Napier Assist Āwhina Tāngata will be focused on Napier CBD to start with and will expand to other commercial centres as the team and service evolve over a five-year period.

The launch of the new initiative coincides with the recommencement of Napier’s CCTV network, which will enhance the group’s work by directing them to people who may need help.

Wise says it is important people understand Napier Assist Āwhina Tāngata is not taking over the role of Police, and if they witness criminal behaviour they should still call 111 or 105. 

Napier Assist Āwhina Tāngata Team Leader, Daniel Hicks (left) with Napier Assist Āwhina Tāngata Senior Officer, Mathew Chambers. Photo/Supplied. 

Napier Assist Āwhina Tāngata will be led by former Police Officer Daniel Hicks, who has experience as a senior case manager for high-risk individuals and families, as well as a family harm investigator.

He is backed by a team from diverse backgrounds, including welfare support, youth justice and security. 

Napier Assist Āwhina Tāngata is based on other city assist programmes.

Hicks says the team has gained valuable advice and support from city assist services in Hamilton and Hastings, where they have learned on the job by shadowing those teams.

"We are really looking forward to getting into the city and getting to know everyone. Our goal is to be friendly faces who can inform and advise people." 

Napier City Business Inc General Manager Pip Thompson is also excited to welcome the service from next week. “It means a huge amount to our business community."

"It means there’s someone in the street, only a couple of minutes away who can help, so it’s very reassuring. Having that service in between retailers and the police gives a strong and visible presence, not just in case of any bad stuff but to support all the good stuff that’s happening, as champions for the city. 

“We want there to be a ‘first name basis’ relationship and full trust in each other. To create that real unity it’s important we all gather together to support a safer community."