Innovative Rotorua Lakes Council projects have won two out of six categories and shared the overall Judges’ Choice Award at the Local Government New Zealand EXCELLENCE Awards.
The Council won the LGNZ EXCELLENCE Award for Best Practice Contribution to Local Economic Development for breathing new life into the inner city; and the LGNZ EXCELLENCE Award for Service Delivery and Asset Management category for its Te Aka Mauri Library and Children’s Health Hub. It was joint winner of the MartinJenkins Judges’ Choice Award for Performance Excellence and Community Outcomes, sharing the honours with Palmerston North City Council.
Now in their fifth year, the Awards recognise and celebrate the key leadership role that local government plays in communities around the country. This year saw the highest number of entries in the Awards’ history. Winners were announced at the LGNZ conference dinner in Christchurch on 16 July.
The Revitalisation of the Inner City project was praised by judges as “the culmination of a clearly thought out long-term strategy for central business district redevelopment which has given confidence to, and drawn support from, the private sector. It has well-measured outcomes and shows the Council’s consistency of forward thinking.”
Judges noted the excellent communication, collaboration and community outreach and the creation of an ‘ideas bank’ that led to “quick wins, creating the necessary momentum for the revitalisation project to get underway.” They also highlighted outcomes, including increased construction and foot traffic and significant impact on economic growth for Rotorua.
The Te Aka Mauri Library and Children’s Health Hub represents a national, if not global, first in successfully co-locating Rotorua’s library service with the District Health Board’s local health hub.
Judges commended the initiative to co-locate the services for the purpose of improving service delivery, noting “this is a good example of strong use of community infrastructure to improve well-being within the district.”
Delivered collaboratively by the Council and Lakes DHB, the project has brought together delivery of the DHB’s children’s health services which were being seriously compromised by a multi-site approach, while at the same time addressing the issue of the City Library having reached its ‘use by date’.
As well as the library and health hub, the building provides community meeting spaces, with after-hours access, a parents’ room and multi-sensory digitised spaces.
LGNZ President Dave Cull said “Our judges commended the number of outstanding finalists in the awards across delivery of best practice value and services to their community and they are recognising this in awarding the first joint award in the Judges’ Choice category. The leadership shown by Rotorua Lakes Council and Palmerston North City Council is an example to others in the country of strong strategic thinking, excellent community engagement and well-designed execution.”
The winners and finalists incorporate best practice criteria from LGNZ’s CouncilMARK™ excellence programme which is designed to improve the public’s knowledge of the work councils are doing in their communities and to support individual councils to further improve the service and value they provide.
“Overall the judges felt that the strongest entries demonstrated a strong strategic focus, clear outcomes, measured results, cost benefit analysis and engagement with external organisations – particularly a collaborative approach with stakeholders, and meaningful engagement with iwi and Māori.”