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Volunteers keep summer safe

Summer Safe volunteers had a positive impact on Whangarei’s reputation as a safe and attractive destination for tourists this year.
Updated: 21/08/2013 3:48 p.m.

​Summer Safe volunteers had a positive impact on Whangarei’s reputation as a safe and attractive destination for tourists this year.

This week the eight community groups who supported the campaign were formally acknowledged by Whangarei District Council and New Zealand Police at an event attended by representatives from each of the volunteer groups.

The Summer Safe Carpark campaign is focused on reducing theft from vehicles and is supported by volunteer ambassadors who patrol high risk carparks over the summer period. The programme has been deemed a huge success, with no reported incidents or claims during volunteer patrols over the summer.

In the three years the campaign has been running, thefts from vehicles across Northland have dropped from 1055 in 2010 to 797 last year, said Whangarei Community Safety Officer Dave Palmer. Vehicle thefts have also reduced from 774 in 2002 to 644 in 2012.

Mr Palmer says the campaign is only made possible with the support of volunteer groups, who operated for 232 days in total, across eight carparks at popular visitor destinations. These included Whale Bay (patrolled by Tutukaka Coast Promotions), Whangarei Falls (Tiki Pride), AH Reed (Blue Club), Abbey Caves (Community Patrols NZ), Parihaka (Onerahi and Hatea Lions Clubs), Ruakaka (Ruakaka Surf Life Saving Club), Uretiti (Waipu Community Patrols) and Waipu Cove (Waipu Cove Surf Life Saving Club).

In total, 15,353 cars were recorded using the carparks and volunteers distributed advice and information to over 22,000 individuals.

“The volunteers help visitors at some of Whangarei’s most popular attractions to feel safe and welcome, meaning they stay longer and they return to visit us again. Ultimately, these volunteers are having a positive economic impact on the whole region,” says Mr Palmer.

This year Tiki Pride also recruited the Tikipunga High School volleyball team to assist the Whangarei Falls carpark patrol. In exchange, the students accepted community donations to help support their trip to the National Volleyball Championships.

One of the students, Kane Turketo, says the Summer Safe campaign has shown him and his fellow students how they can help their community in a positive way.

Another Tiki Pride member, Moira Thompson, says the Summer Safe Carpark campaign presented her first opportunity to volunteer in the community.

“I wanted a way to give back to the community and I really get joy out of helping people. Being an ambassador has really helped me gain confidence in talking to the public and is helping give the Whangarei Falls area a good image. It’s made me feel important and needed in the community.”

Whangarei District Council Community Services Manager Owen Thomas says the programme has been expanded to include more community groups and more carparks every year.

“We are really grateful for the support from our community volunteers and we want to see the campaign continue for many years to come.

Some of our volunteers really go the extra mile, with people like Dianne Taylor, who would travel 67km from Pahia to Abbey Caves to patrol the carpark as part of the programme.

“We’re passionate about increasing the number of volunteers in our District as it makes a real and measurable difference to our community, both for our residents and our visitors.”




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