A Hutt City Council project to transform recreational and educational opportunities for young people in Taita 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 Transformation Taita project is a finalist for the Fulton Hogan EXCELLENCE Award for Community Engagement. Based around the Walter Nash Centre, which opened in 2015, the project is focused on empowering tamariki for a brighter future. The project is making the full range of council and other much needed services available to children that need it the most.
Partnering with five local schools, the council provided a “magic card” for every student, providing free access to council swimming pools, and free internet, book borrowing and printing at libraries, and free transport for educational trips in the greater Wellington region.
A Computer Clubhouse, based on a successful model in Naenae, gives students the opportunity to build confidence in the use of technology and now has 250 members.
The impact on the community has been considerable, with more than a million visits to the Walter Nash Centre, a 58 per cent increase in library books borrowed, and a 90 percent decrease in graffiti in Taita since the Centre opened.
Corporate partners have donated computers and KPMG staff have volunteered in schools and hosted children at visits to their Wellington offices.
Judges said the project focused on giving young people in an area of high deprivation the right start. It involved many different parties from within the community who all have an interest in these young people and want to look after them.
“This project will give those kids a perspective they wouldn’t gain otherwise. It has great partnerships with a whole range of players involved.”
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:
- Fulton Hogan EXCELLENCE Award for Community Engagement
- Creative New Zealand EXCELLENCE Award for Best Creative Place
- Air New Zealand EXCELLENCE Award for Environmental Impact
- Chorus EXCELLENCE Award for Best Practice in Infrastructure
- Crown Fibre Holdings EXCELLENCE Award for Best Practice Contribution to Local Economic Development
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.