A healthy city is one that makes it easy and natural to be healthier, more prosperous and thrive.  

During the COVID-19 lockdown our neighbourhoods were transformed. Our whānau reclaimed our streets for walking, cycling and playing. People were able to use and experience these spaces differently. Proving that when given the opportunity, time, space and permission our people will use our streets and spaces in a way that contributes to their wellbeing.

Two years ago, three Healthy Families NZ locations, including the Hutt Valley, prioritised active transport and healthy city design through creating dedicated roles within their teams.  The Hon Julie Anne Genter, Associate Minister of Health and Transport at the time, encouraged Healthy Families NZ to take this approach to see what impact could be achieved.  Two years on, we reflect back on the changes we’ve seen in our local transport system and how the design of our city has been influenced through the efforts of our Healthy City Design Lead Mark Shanks.

Mark has worked towards achieving the goals of a healthy city by working alongside local communities and our colleagues within Hutt City Council’s transport team.  There has been significant progress across the active transport system, including Hutt City Council integrating active modes of transport into their fleet operations with the introduction of two e-bikes, play streets in communities across the city enabling people to take back their streets for play, reimagining our public spaces through placemaking and bike rodeos, the formation of community networks with neighbourhood cycling hubs, supporting the creation of an integrated transport plan for Lower Hutt, insight gathering from the community on active transport during COVID-19 and securing Innovating Streets for People funding from Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency.  

A highlight from working within the Healthy City Design kaupapa is the strengthened relationships and collaborative way of working with Hutt City Council’s transport team.  Many of the decisions that contribute to how people use our public spaces are made within this team.  The team works hard to achieve the balance between a city that functions well and a city that supports our people to thrive through the role of our transport system.  Together we’ve worked to shift mindsets towards our city being able to function effectively while enabling people to be able to get around our city actively and reclaim public space. Smart and healthy design delivers positive outcomes for people and our environment.  We are proud of our transport team for being bold and disrupting the system.  

“The Healthy Families Hutt Valley approach has really added value to our team, the way we operate and our decision making by helping us to understand how we can use our transport infrastructure to contribute towards the health and wellbeing of our community” says Damon Simmons Traffic Asset Manager.