For this fourth year of the programme, a team of six 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 16 December until 28 February, ambassadors will be based out of iSITE. They will be a visible presence in The Square and surrounding streets from 9am to 6pm every day of the week, recognisable in their orange #PalmySafe shirts. They’ll also be at our city events over summer.
Our City Ambassadors, Sasi Chinta, Elliot Pepper, David Patullo, Gordon Jiang, Aidan Voice and Sally Pearce, bring a range of personal, cultural and skill-based experience to their roles.
Sasi’s customer service experience is enhanced by her ability to speak five languages. Elliot has been a support caregiver and is a published writer. David is new to Palmerston North but passionate about getting to know the city (he has 25 years in the entertainment industry and is working with Centrepoint). Gordon, who is finishing his PHD as a Doctor of Philosophy in Precision Agriculture, speaks three languages. Aidan is enthusiastic about quality customer service that builds relationships (and he plays the saxophone), and comes from working in our Council Call Centre to this face-to-face role. Sally has a focus on building greater community connectedness and resilience, having worked for our City Library and Environment Network Manawatū.
Māngai Atawhai has found support from local businesses since it was trialled in 2017. Feedback has shown that the summer programme increases the friendly culture of Palmerston North and helps promotes the city.
Council Community Development Manager Joann Ransom says Māngai Atawhai embraces Council’s vision of a welcoming, inviting and accessible city.
“This programme is about making connections between people and the city. It’s about being welcoming, sharing city information and wayfinding advice, being culturally and environmentally vibrant, and making sure people know about how amazing Palmy is, especially with its attractions and events,” Ransom says.
Māngai Atawhai links with 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.
Safety Advisory Board Chairman Councillor Pat Handcock says the City Ambassador programme puts friendly, welcoming faces in our CBD, with their visual presence also promoting the safety of the city centre.
“Our ambassadors give great service to our community, helping build positive impressions of Palmy for both residents and visitors. We know Palmy is a great place to live, play and work, and our City Ambassadors champion this with our residents, people who are visiting, or those who are considering Palmy as their new home,” Handcock says.
Police Area Prevention Manager Inspector Ross Grantham, who is on the board, said the Police support the City Ambassador programme as part of a partnership with Council.
“The best safety tactic is capable guardians, that’s people looking after one another, and that is what this programme is all about,” Grantham says.