For this third year of the ambassador programme, a team of three will be out and about in the central business district as points of contact, engaging with Palmerston North residents and visitors on anything from promoting events and city attractions, to answering questions and giving parking advice. Running from 9 December until 15 March, ambassadors will be based out of iSite. They will be a visible presence in the Square and surrounding streets from 11am to 5.30pm, Monday to Saturday, recognisable in their orange #PalmySafe shirts.
One of this year’s ambassadors is Jessica Collins. In November, Collins was named among Kiwibank Local Hero Medal recipients, and in June she won the Prime Minister’s Exemplar Award at the New Zealand Youth Awards. Collins, a Massey University Student, received the recognitions for her work supporting Māori mental health and suicide prevention. She created and led the Mana Whenua Hikoi in 2018, during which she walked 668km over 21 days, building awareness of the mana whenua approach to suicide prevention and raising money for Lifeline.
Collins says she loves people and being involved in the community and is excited about getting paid to do what she enjoys out in the sunshine. “I’m excited to be part of a newly formed team and getting out in the community building connections.”
Leading the team will be Izzy Flores, whose community work has involved being a team leader at Red Frogs Palmerston North, a host at Te Manawa, Red Cross refugee support, and student support. The third team member is Michael Breen, who has been in Palmerston North for 12 years. Breen says he loves the city and is looking forward to getting out in the community.
Since City Ambassadors was trialled in 2017, the programme has found support from local businesses. Feedback has shown that the summer programme increases the friendly culture of Palmerston North and helps promote the city.
Council Community Development Manager Joann Ransom says City Ambassadors embraces Council’s vision of a welcoming, inviting and accessible city.
“This year’s programme focuses on opening potential connections between people and the city, supporting Council goals of a connected, valued and safe community. It builds on potential for people to see Palmerston North as culturally and environmentally vibrant, promoting the city’s attractions and events,” Ransom says.
The City Ambassadors programme links to the work of the Palmerston North Safety Advisory Board in maintaining Palmerston North’s Safe City Accreditation, as recognised by the Pan Pacific Safe Communities Network. The advisory board is a voluntary group that works with Council, the community and agencies.