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City Ambassadors – History and Highlights

City Ambassadors – History and Highlights

Auckland City’s Ambassador programme is one year old. It was first mooted in March 1999, and is loosely based on a project from New York, where previously unemployed city dwellers were assigned individual street ‘blocks’ to look after.

Each employee was tasked with keeping his or her patch free of litter and graffiti. They also reported crime, and generally put on a friendly face for fellow New Yorkers. The scheme was a big success, and the team became known as the ‘Bob’s’ – after one of the best known and best liked of its members.

With the summer of 1999/2000 being so important to Auckland, the Council – under the leadership of Councillor Victoria Carter - agreed that a similar programme could add a sense of welcome for thousands of expected visitors, and set aside funding for a six-month trial.

The Council found a willing partner for the programme in Work and Income New Zealand (WINZ). Through their ‘Taskforce Green’ initiative, WINZ assist with funding the programme, and by providing potential applicants for the role of Ambassador, offer work opportunities for the unemployed. Sponsorship and support was also received from a number of inner city businesses and the central city business association – Heart of the City.

In September 1999, over 90 applicants were interviewed for the 12 available positions. In recruiting the team, emphasis was placed on finding people with strong enthusiasm, good attitude and excellent people skills.

Two weeks of intensive training followed recruitment. The team spent much of it getting to know what Auckland has to offer, and also worked hard on how they could add to the experience of visiting the city. They created a vision for the programme, which is to:

“enhance the image of Auckland as a vibrant city, by creating memorable experiences for all cultures”

The programme has been an undoubted success. It operates operated seven days a week over the summer and, reduced to four staff, from Monday to Friday during the winter. Ambassadors provide what is essentially a welcoming, mobile information service. The team continually monitors the streets for rubbish, graffiti, road and sign damage, and over the course of the 1999/2000 summerperiod, have established a good rapport with city retailers and businesses.

In fact, such was the popularity of the scheme that it was extended to the busy retail areas of Parnell and Newmarket in January of this year. Support was again received from local businesses and the business associations, and they have also decided to continue the programme this summer.

Some Statistics:

Since the commencement of the Ambassadors Project, the Ambassadors have dealt with 3,67910,449 reported queries and faults. These can be broken down :-

1,8616,456 queries including directions, compliments, tourist and business liaison. A percentage breakdown of query types follows:

Retail13.5%Bank2.4%Compliments0.7%Food5.1%Accomodation3.5%Tourist Attractions8.5%Directions44.9%Transport18.5%Info Centre2.9%
3,944 faults, including rubbish, road faults, sign faults, and graffiti.

1,317 rubbish faults that have been reported and actioned
409 road faults that have been reported and actioned
75 sign faults that have been reported and actioned
18 graffiti incidents that have been reported and actioned

The following tables sets out the responses to the a survey of the Ambassadors and the CBD retailersconducted in the early part of the programme.
The third table illustrates the feedback from the sponsors.

Responses from the Ambassadors

QuestionsResponsesDo you see yourself moving to other employment in Auckland City?100% of the Ambassadors said yes with two wishing to become Parking Wardens and the remaining nine in horticulture and marketingDo you think you are making a difference?100% said yes saying that the streets are cleaner and people are approaching them Have you acquired any new skills from the programme?100% said yes, including:
People skills
Communication skills
Radio operation
Multicultural understanding and knowledge
Increase in confidence
Working in a team atmosphere
Understanding CouncilDo you believe there is room for the expansion of the Project?82% of the Ambassadors said yes
The Ambassadors see their job as being about meeting and greeting people, to help to make Auckland City a more friendly and memorable experience, to foster a good relationship with retailers and business and to put a human face to Auckland City.

2.2.2 Responses from CBD retailers
In another survey conducted with retailers at the end of the initial summer programme, in which 169 out of 180 responded, the following results were recorded :124 retailers were surveyed.

QuestionsResponsesAre you aware of the Ambassadors Programme?85% yes
14% no
1% were unsureDo you see the Ambassadors as an asset to retailers?82% yes
9% no
9% no answerHow do you see the Ambassadors as an asset to retailers?Promotion of the City
Sending people to the right places
Promoting business
Increasing awareness of retail sites
Creating a more personal feel to the inner City
Creating an air of friendliness
Presenting a clean and tidy City for customers to come


Do you feel the City Ambassadors are an asset to Auckland City?

Very Much So Not At All
( 6 5 4 3 2 1 (

40% 36% 19% 4% 1% -
95% 5%

Do you feel the Ambassadors promote Auckland City in a positive way?

Very Much So Not At All
( 6 5 4 3 2 1 (

39% 39% 15% 6% - 1%
93% 7%

Do you feel the project has resulted in Auckland being a cleaner, tidier City?

Very Much So Not At All
( 6 5 4 3 2 1 (

24% 30% 31% 2% 8% 3%
85% 15%

Do you think the project has resulted in a more personal feel for visitors to the City?

Very Much So Not At All
( 6 5 4 3 2 1 (

49% 23% 15% 6% 2% 1%
87% 13%

Do you feel the Ambassadors themselves are friendly, approachable, and informative?

Very Much So Not At All
( 6 5 4 3 2 1 (

55% 29% 10% 6% - -
94% 6%

Do you feel the programme has given ratepayers value for their money?

Very Much So Not At All
( 6 5 4 3 2 1 (

23% 31% 25% 9% 5% 5%
79% 21%

Do you think the Ambassadors are “visible” enough?

Very Much So Not At All
( 6 5 4 3 2 1 (

36% 28% 21% 7% 4% 2%
85% 15%

Do you think there is a need for the programme to continue?

Very Much So Not At All
( 6 5 4 3 2 1 (

40% 29% 16% 6% 3% 3%
85% 15%

Some of the comments received from the retailers in this survey are listed below :

Retailer Comments from Survey

Working in a Hotel, it is good to know that the City Ambassadors are around. For tourists (NZ and overseas) it is a good service that needs to be continued. It gives Auckland a friendly positive feel which will put it above all other international cities. Keep it up!!
I believe the ambassador programme is a huge step in a direction that Auckland city must move if it is to become one of the world’s leading “city” destinations. It is important that the Ambassadors are kept up to date on a daily basis concerning what is happening in this city, especially those funded by the city council. Congratulations to the city council for instigating a programme that promotes the positives of this great city.
Found the City Ambassadors we have met very friendly and a great deal of help to visitors to Auckland and the public in general.
I have met many of the Ambassadors. They have all been pleasant, helpful, courteous. Well worth having.
I think there is a great need for this programme to continue. All the Ambassadors around the city are just excellent!!! Friendly, helpful – a must for Auckland City. It would be a sad city without them!!! They are the best idea in a long time!!! Thank you.
The city ambassadors are always smiling and very helpful. They always say hello and I think they give tourists a positive outlook on Auckland and are far better than an information centre!!!

Sponsors Feedback (1999/2000 Sponsors)

SponsorFeedbackSmith and CaugheyNo adverse comment
Could come into the shop more often
Need more contact with AmbassadorsHeart of the CityGreat concept
Great feedback from retailers
Concern that rubbish is not being collectedWINZVery happy with progress
Enthusiasm is excellent
Keep in mind their needs in supporting them finding jobsSky CityScheme is excellent
Seems to be going well
Increase their contacts with the sponsors

2.2.3 Tourist feedback

One of the roles of the Ambassadors has been to be an information source for tourists, whose numbers increased dramatically in the City due to the America’s Cup, especially in the Viaduct Basin. Feedback from tourists is hard to obtain, however survey cards have recently been introduced, and some of the comments from these are listed below :

City Worker - Nowhere else in the world has a city been introduced to me with such enthusiasm and in such a persuasive manner.
South Africa – “Ambassador” scheme excellent idea. Karen was efficient, extremely helpful and went the proverbial extra mile.
Australia – Kevin is a fantastic chap. Told us everything we wanted to know. Great personality. A credit to you.
Resident – Ambassadors programme has really contributed to the image of Auckland City as visitors feel more comfortable to move about.
America – Demetrius was incredibly helpful and made our experience in NZ quite nice! He went out of his way to make sure we found the perfect place for lunch! Thanks!
Australia – Without people like Kevin people like us would be running around in circles, therefore not being able to fully enjoy this beautiful city of Auckland. A pay rise for him would be great.

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