Published: 14 June 2017
A 16-year project partnering Palmerston North City Council with the community to establish green corridors of native plants from the Tararua Ranges through to Palmerston North City and the Manawatū River is a finalist in the Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) EXCELLENCE Awards.
Now in their fourth year, the Awards recognise and celebrate the key leadership role that local government plays in communities around the country.
The Green Corridors Palmerston North project is a finalist for the Air New Zealand EXCELLENCE Award for Environmental Impact.
The project began in 2001 when residents were concerned at the loss of biodiversity in Palmerston North, with only 1 percent of forest cover remaining and native birds a rare sight.
Since then 150,000 native trees have been planted along the Turitea and Kahuterawa streams and gullies in the suburb of Aokautere/Summerhill.
There has been a significant increase in native bird numbers in the Turitea Reserve, headwaters of the Green Corridors project, and water quality has improved in both streams.
Turitea Stream is now being used as an incubator for eels through a collaborative project with local iwi, Rangitāne o Manawatū.
Judges said this was a project initiated by a community concerned about biodiversity loss.
“Sixteen years on it is still going and the impact is there to see as a result of the efforts of many people planting thousands of trees. This project has had wide community involvement, from the very young to older residents, and shows the benefits that can be gained over time.”
They said the Environmental Impact category was the strongest in 2017, dealing with real issues around rivers, water and biodiversity. A number of the entries were in the very early stages but with excellent strategy and processes in place the judging panel looked forward to seeing the results of these projects in coming years.
LGNZ President Lawrence Yule said the finalists in the EXCELLENCE Awards showcased outstanding leadership being provided by local government throughout the country.
“Local government is at the centre of every community in New Zealand, helping shape the environment in which we work and play,” Mr Yule says.
“Being named as a finalist is a great achievement and reflects the vision shown by councils and the innovative work being done by staff. The finalists include some truly exceptional projects that are having a profound impact on communities.”
Local authorities were invited to submit award applications in five categories:
Judges for the awards are former Wellington Mayor Kerry Prendergast, Chair of EQC Sir Maarten Wevers and The New Zealand Initiative’s Executive Director, Dr Oliver Hartwich.