Wairoa District Council has been highly commended in the Local Government New Zealand EXCELLENCE Awards 2018 for its innovative Wairoa Wastewater Stakeholder Group project.
The Council won the accolade in the Fulton Hogan EXCELLENCE Award for Community Engagement category.
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.
Wairoa District Council established the Wairoa Wastewater Stakeholder Group to support it as it undertook community consultation about the future management of wastewater – ahead of Resource Consent for the community wastewater scheme expiring in 2019.
The group was made up of a cross section of the affected community to ensure that a wide variety of views and perspectives were taken into consideration during the project planning phased – with the approach resulting in stronger relationships.
It included two councillors, three tangata whenua representatives, representing the three traditional takiwā of the Wairoa River, and one representative each from Wairoa senior citizens, the business community and Wairoa youth.
Judges said the project was a genuine move away from traditional consultation to be more inclusive and a commitment to listen. The approach was praised as “an inclusive, solutions-focussed and pragmatic response that included strong iwi participation and two-way community engagement”.
LGNZ President Dave Cull said that engaging the stakeholder group early in the process had allowed the Council to undertake a thorough options assessment that was accepted by the community.
“The Wairoa Wastewater Stakeholder Group and all the EXCELLENCE 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. Wairoa District Council is a Foundation Member and Central Hawke’s Bay District Council a new member of this programme.
“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.”