Statistics NZ abandons Auckland CBD office over security concerns

Stats NZ has had a security guard outside the Grays Avenue building since April, but it was not enough to make staff feel safe.

Stats NZ has had a security guard outside the Grays Avenue building since April, but it was not enough to make staff feel safe.
Photo: RNZ / Finn Blackwell

A government agency is moving out of Auckland city because its staff don’t feel safe there.

Stats NZ will not renew the lease of the Grays Avenue building, where staff have reported anti-social behavior on the street and around the office entrance.

He said the health and safety of workers was his priority.

They had faced anti-social behaviour: intoxication and calls to staff, making workers feel uncomfortable, unsafe, intimidated or upset.

There had been a security guard at the door since April, but it wasn’t even enough.

On Grays Avenue, one resident told RNZ he felt safe on the street about half the time.

“It’s fifty percent, like five out of ten,” he said.

“I don’t feel insecure, but there are times when I think ‘this is pretty iffy.'”

The resident said he was moving due to safety and rent concerns.

“They raised the rent, I don’t think it’s worth it, but also, at least once a week there are police here,” he said.

The resident described an instance in which he had seen a car crash into a nearby building.

“It’s all since it opened,” he said, pointing to the Kāinga Ora building further up the street.

Every worker has the right to feel safe, says PSA Undersecretary Fleur Fitzsimons.

Every worker has the right to feel safe, says PSA Undersecretary Fleur Fitzsimons.
Photo: RNZ / Finn Blackwell

The Kāinga Ora Te Mātāwai building on Grays Avenue was completed in June 2023 and had a total of 276 apartments.

A worker on the street said he had not had any problems with the building or its tenants.

“I know there’s the Kāinga Ora building across the street, but we don’t have any problems with any of the residents there,” he said.

“They’re pretty harmless.”

Viv Beck, chief executive of Auckland’s central city business association Heart of the City, said she was disappointed by the situation.

“We want people to be safe here and feel safe, and to come to work and live and all those things in a safe environment, which is very disappointing.”

The Public Services Association represented more than 90,000 workers across central government and said it was not enough that workers did not feel safe.

PSA deputy secretary Fleur Fitzsimons said Stats NZ had a legal and moral duty to ensure the safety of its staff.

“Stats NZ staff have raised their concerns with us, we are pleased the employer is taking them seriously, including encouraging remote working and placing security guards,” he said.

“These are important measures to keep people safe.”

Fitzsimons said every worker had the right to feel safe.

“Worker safety must be the top priority for all employers, including Stats New Zealand, and we are working with them to support staff there and ensure appropriate measures are being taken.”

Stats NZ will not renew the lease on its Grays Avenue building because its staff members do not feel safe there.

Stats NZ will not renew the lease on its Grays Avenue building because its staff members do not feel safe there.
Photo: RNZ / Finn Blackwell

In Auckland, Viv Beck said it was important something was done to address concerns and pushed her calls for more safety measures in the city.

“This is our international gateway, we have over a million people here every week and there is a lot of public and private investment going on,” he said.

“While we do everything we can locally, we need to see that additional support in terms of increased police visibility, a downtown police station, better housing management and specialist mental health and addictions services for people. people who need it,” Beck said.

“It’s important that we get it right.”

Beck said they had constantly pressured the government to make changes and there was still more to do.

“We’ve been pushing for some time to have that cross-agency approach from central government to complement the work that’s being done at the local level,” he said.

“Those things are still relevant and we want to see more, although we have seen the police step up their efforts, it is important that we have a strong police presence and social support for those who need it.”

Beck said she would keep an eye on the government’s budget to see what additional support can be provided.

“Really what we are seeing and what we have been asking for, for a considerable period, remains relevant to support what really is a strong local effort between us, the police, the council, doing everything we can, along with the support from the private sector and voluntary community organisations, we need to see that additional support from central government.

Police area commander Grant Tetzlaff said reported crime in the Auckland CBD area has increased in recent years, but has leveled off in the last six months.

In a statement to RNZ, Tetzlaff said police were working to help prevent alcohol-related disorders and crime.

He said they were working with business groups, the city council, local MPs and residents groups to help solve the city’s problems.

“The issues causing crime in the CBD can be complex in nature and involve multiple agencies and community partners,” Tetzlaff said.

“For that reason, the police cannot solve these problems alone.”

Tetzlaff said with the help of the K Road Business Association, Heart of the City, Auckland Council, local boards, local MPs and residents groups and increased officer staffing, police were focused on ensuring that the central city was a safe place to live. work and visit.