22 Feb 2024

Wellington Water crews verbally abused, filmed while fixing leaks

12:53 pm on 22 February 2024
Wellington Water attempting to fix leaks in the CBD

Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

Wellington Water says its staff are being verbally abused and filmed by people while out trying to fix leaks.

Wellington, Upper Hutt, Lower Hutt and Porirua are in level two restrictions which ban household garden sprinklers and irrigation systems, as Wellington Water struggles to repair high numbers of leaks on the system.

Latest modelling showed 44 percent of the capital's wastewater pipes are in a 'poor' or 'very poor' state.

In Lower Hutt, there are 839 confirmed active leaks which needed to drop down past 280 for Wellington Water to be able to respond to small-sized leaks within 20 days.

Wellington Water spokesperson Kevin Locke said crews had been receiving verbal abuse from people while trying to fix the leaks.

He said they understood how frustrated residents were, especially when being asked to conserve water when it can take a long time to fix a leak, but it was not right to take it out on its crew members.

"Our frontline people are just trying to do the mahi and fix all of these leaks," he said.

Locke said people had also been taking photos and videos of their crews while they're on the job.

"Even when we've politely asked them to doing that, they've continued," he said.

Wellington Water said in a Facebook post on Monday: "It might not seem like a big deal, but just think: if someone came into your workplace and started taking photos, how would you feel? So remember, taking a snap of the job they've done is totally fine - but please, keep our crews out of it."

Locke said the harassment has had an impact on their crew members. "We just want them to focus on the task at hand rather than be distracted by that," he said.

Wellington Water is owned by the Hutt, Porirua, Upper Hutt and Wellington city councils, South Wairarapa District Council and Greater Wellington Regional Council.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs