Waitaki has recently been reaccredited as a Safe Community, part of a New Zealand-wide network that supports wellbeing, placemaking, resilience and community safety initiatives.
The Safe Communities concepts embody the values and philosophies of whanaungatanga (relationships) manaakitanga (respect, care, and support) and tino rangatiratanga (self-determination and autonomy). It is seen as a mechanism for bringing together agencies and groups that usually work in isolation and generate a collective 'weight' when responding to pressing community issues.
Assessors from Safe Communities Foundation of New Zealand said they were delighted to see the evolution and growth that had occurred over the seven years Waitaki had been part of the initiative. To be reaccredited, a community is required to maintain the criteria standards around Collaborative Governance, Priority Setting, Effective Strategies and Shared learnings based on the Safe Community model. The review team was made up of representatives from SCFNZ, The Te Hiringa Hauora | Health Promotion Agency and international review from the Pan Pacific Safe Community Network.
Mayor for Waitaki Gary Kircher was pleased but not surprised by the reaccreditation. "Safer Waitaki is held up as a very good example for other communities. Our Community Safety and Development Facilitator, Helen Algar, has presented to other Councils, giving them advice on how to set up an effective Safer Community organisation. As our Council's partner, Safer Waitaki will continue to work with us as we work to make Waitaki a better place to be. We are proud of them and very pleased they achieved reaccreditation so well!"
The assessment report held up Waitaki as 'an excellent example of the adoption and implementation of the Safe Community model, demonstrating excellent community and organisational collaboration at both strategic and operational level for a provincial/rural district. There is strong support from the District Council, and it relies on the coalition to contribute to the wellbeing of the community. Waitaki is to be commended for working together to collectively strengthen cultural capability, diversity, and inclusion. Building strong and resilient communities is central to reducing all harm and increasing individual and community wellbeing.'
Chair of Safer Waitaki, Paul Olsen, was delighted to see that the excellent work of the coalition had been nationally recognised. "Our community partnerships and networking strategies have been identified as an outstanding model of collaboration. The impact of our network is a credit to the commitment of our members to finding genuine local solutions."
SCFNZ Director, Tania Peters says "The success of the group lies in finding local solutions to local problems. Safer Waitaki has endeavoured to promote positive change and sustainability for safe communities through research, engagement and community collaboration. They have evolved to meet the needs of today's community and it's great to see key opportunities centered on community wellbeing, resilience and inclusive communities."
Waitaki Community Development Manager Helen Algar said, "This really satisfactory result has come about through the support of Waitaki District Council and the contribution of the 160 member groups of the Safer Waitaki network, working in collaboration. Everyone involved has participated at a really high level to ensure the wellbeing of the residents of the Waitaki district."