The Auckland Council has responded to pressure from students concerned about the lack of security in Albert Park, Auckland Central.
The Auckland University campus community appealed to local boards and the council regarding an increase in lighting and the installation of security cameras.
Waitemata and Gulf ward councillor Mike Lee was eager to enforce change around security and awareness.
“The safety of people, of citizens, going about their business is a basic human right that we are gathered here to defend and uphold. There was a meeting today in which the Waitemata Local Board chair drafted a proposal to upgrade the lighting here and also to fit CCTV cameras to add security,” he said.
Last Friday night, the Auckland University Students' Association (AUSA) held a rally in the park which included speakers from a range of organisations and was followed by a safety audit activity.
There have been several attacks in Albert Park recently, where international students have been the primary victims and the park has since become a place to avoid.
AUSA President Will Matthews believed it was high time for action instead of just talking and waiting for the next attack to happen.
“It’s been on AUSA’s radar for quite a long time . . . it’s just taken this long and several very high profile, very brutal assaults on students, for the media and the council to realise that something is missing,” he said.
Labour MP Jacinda Ardern spoke at the rally and expressed concern for student safety.
“We should feel like this campus in the city is a safe place. We should feel that we have a good reputation to uphold, but that has been undermined in recent weeks, and it is about coming together collectively and saying what can we do to make this a safer environment,” she said.
The fact that the council has now addressed the severity of the attacks as well as the lack of security is a step in the right direction for students and the wider campus community.
Women’s Rights Officer Izzy O’Neill is surprised at the reaction from the community and believes that if nothing changes then the violence is likely to continue.
“When violence happens it sends a ripple effect around communities; violence affects us all. The lack of safety in Albert Park has been known about and apparently condoned for a long time, and the victim-blaming culture that is attached to this park is simply not acceptable,” she said.