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A Helping Hand in the City

Published: 23 June 2022

Napier Assist

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

Noticed something isn’t right? Why is the road closed up ahead? Where is the nearest public toilet? From Monday, friendly, knowledgeable Napier Assist officers will be on the streets of the CBD helping wherever they’re needed.

Napier Assist Āwhina Tāngata is a group of dedicated kaitiaki who will keep a watchful eye over the 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,” Mayor 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% of submitters supported proposals for an ambassador programme and upgraded CCTV,” Mayor Wise says.

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. Daniel 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. 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.

Napier Assist Āwhina Tāngata leader Daniel Hicks says, “We’re 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,” says Pip.

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.

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.

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