Waipa and Waikato Council projects take honours in LGNZ EXCELLENCE Awards

Published: July 17, 2018

News type: National news   

Waipa District Council has been named among winners of the Local Government New Zealand EXCELLENCE Awards 2018, with Waikato District Council and Waikato Mayoral Forum projects highly commended.

Waipa District Council won the Fulton Hogan EXCELLENCE Award for Community Engagement for its project Out of the Shadows – Bringing Waipa’s Heritage to Life.

Waikato District Council was highly commended in the LGNZ EXCELLENCE Award for Best Practice Contribution to Local Economic Development category for the Te Awa River Ride – Ngaruawahia to Horotiu; and the Waikato Mayoral Forum was highly commended in the LGNZ EXCELLENCE Award for Service Delivery and Asset Management category for the RATA (Road Asset Technical Accord) programme.

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.

Waipa District Council’s Out of the Shadows project aimed to increase the district’s knowledge of its rich history and the powerful and nationally significant story it has to tell. 

It worked to inspire discussion and create an environment where all people felt comfortable talking about their heritage and what it meant for them.  The approach was in preparation for a proposed significant increase in heritage investment, including plans for a Waipa Discovery Centre in Te Awamutu.

Goals ultimately include raising national awareness of Waipa’s heritage, and, in particular, its role in the New Zealand Land Wars.

Outcomes included Council staff having face-to-face conversations on the issue with 1,800 people; videos developed around the heritage project were viewed nearly 62,000 times; social media posts reached nearly 60,000 people over six weeks; and 814 submissions were received.

Judges praised the project as “A novel approach that used an effective and well-designed campaign to address a complex issue of conflicting narratives about historical events.  The project demonstrated broad community engagement that linked its history and fed through into its future planning.”

The collaborative project which delivered the Ngaruawahia-to-Horotiu cycleway and iconic new Perry Bridge Structure, has already resulted in visitor numbers using the new facilities increasing from 40 per day to over 700 visitors.

Judges said “This is an ambitious tourism infrastructure investment which provides the opportunity for positive long-term socio-economic growth and health wellbeing in the District.”

The RATA project, initiated by the Waikato Mayoral Forum, is a collaboration between nine councils in the Waikato region to improve strategic road asset management planning.

Judges praised it as an “excellent example of a large number of councils collaborating on roading, joining together to improve strategic road asset management planning with sharing of experience and knowledge that led to increased efficiency and effective regional service delivery.”

LGNZ President Dave Cull said “These, and all the EXCELLENCE Award winning projects, demonstrate a significant achievement and reflect strong leadership and the innovative work being delivered by councils across the country.

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.”

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