A Waikato District Council project to reclaim public spaces for community use, using the diverse skills of knitting circles and prisoners, 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.
Placemaking in the Waikato is a finalist in the Creative New Zealand EXCELLENCE Award for Best Creative Place and focuses on the council working with community groups to encourage artistic and cultural ideas that inspire people to work together on projects for their own communities.
Two projects have galvanised community groups throughout the district: Little Libraries and ANZAC poppy trees.
The Little Libraries project involves installing small library collections of 30-40 books in a range of locations – more than 30 will eventually be in place, with Spring Hill Corrections Facility involved in construction.
The ANZAC Poppy Trees project saw more than 4,000 poppies knitted to create public art installations on 21 trees around the district. Wool for 3,000 poppies was provided by the council, with the rest donated by participants.
Judges said: “This was a great project which achieved a lot on a small budget, and which connected throughout a very dispersed community of small towns. It brought in diverse members of the community, including a corrections facility and a group of community knitters.”
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.