Napier has joined a small group of cities around the world to be named a member of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Global Network for Age-friendly Cities and Communities.

Napier is the sixth city in New Zealand to join the growing global movement of communities and cities that strive to better meet the needs of older residents.

Hamilton, New Plymouth, Gore, Auckland and Nelson are all members of the network. Wairarapa Region has since been announced as the seventh member.

Napier Mayor Kirsten Wise, said in just a few years Napier’s population of over 65-year-olds would outnumber children for the first time ever.

“By joining the Network, we commit, as a city, to implementing age-friendly local environments and sharing our experiences with other members.”

Minister for Seniors Ginny Anderson congratulated Napier on becoming a member of the WHO’s Global Network.

“This is a fabulous achievement that reflects a large amount of work by the council and the community of Napier over the last few years,” Anderson said.

“I can see that this is the beginning of an exciting journey for Napier City, and I look forward to seeing the community’s progress in the future.”

Napier’s changing age profile

By 2038, a third of Napier’s population (31%) will be 65 years and over, compared to 23% nationally.

Recognising the changing demographic, Napier City Council adopted a Positive Ageing Strategy in 2020, with the vision of ‘living well and ageing well’.

A Positive Ageing Strategy Advisory Group, independently co-chaired by two members of the Napier community, was also formed. “The Positive Ageing Strategy Advisory Group, led by Peter Grant and Lexia Puna, has been key in progressing our application to the WHO,” said Napier City Councillor, Greg Mawson.

He noted that membership in the WHO Network would provide more visibility for council’s desire to be an age-friendly city, which would also further strengthen cross-agency collaboration and coordination.

“Being accepted into the international network means we are on the journey to becoming age friendly after having some of the key steps and projects under our belt to be accepted into the network.”

The Positive Ageing Strategy has seven priority areas based on feedback from the Napier community:

  • Being Informed and Involved
  • Being Safe
  • Community Spirit
  • Getting Around
  • Health and Wenllbeing
  • Housing
  • Things to Do

As part of the Strategy (details here), an action plan will be phased in over a five-year period. The action plan identifies opportunities for supporting both current programmes and services available to older people, as well as new initiatives that will further develop Napier as an age-friendly community.

The action plan will be launched by the mayor at NCC’s International Day of Older Person’s event on October 10.

The WHO Global Network for Age-friendly Cities and Communities was established in 2010 to connect cities, communities and organizations worldwide with the common vision of making their community a great place to grow old in.

As a response to global population ageing and rapid urbanisation, it focuses on action at the local level that fosters the full participation of older people in community life and promotes healthy and active ageing.

Membership to the Network is not an accreditation for age-friendliness.

Rather, it reflects cities’ commitment to listen to the needs of their ageing population, assess and monitor their age-friendliness and work collaboratively with older people and across sectors to create age-friendly physical and social environments.

Public Interest Journalism funded by NZ on Air


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