Innovative Wellington City Council projects to protect the capital’s native biodiversity and to collaborate to build emergency water resilience are among finalists in the Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) EXCELLENCE Awards.
The Our Natural Capital programme is a finalist in the Air New Zealand EXCELLENCE Award for Environmental Impact. The Water in an Emergency collaborative project is a finalist in the EXCELLENCE Award for Delivery and Asset Management.
Now in their fifth year, the Awards recognise and celebrate the key leadership role that local government plays in communities around the country.
Our Natural Capital has seen the Council take a leading role in biodiversity management, including predator control, threatened species protection, community engagement and cutting-edge research into the challenges facing native wildlife in an urban setting.
It has won strong support from Wellingtonians, with more than 5,000 households now predator-trapping in their backyards, more than 120 community groups involved in ecological restoration and about 1,600,000 native plants and trees already planted.
Judges praised the programme’s strong community engagement and “Well-defined measurable targets with a scientific basis resulting in excellent outcomes towards a predator-free New Zealand. It aligns well with national priorities.”
The Water in an Emergency programme is a collaborative response to the ‘curve ball’ thrown by the Kaikoura earthquake, to provide access to drinking water in an emergency.
It also involves Greater Wellington Regional Council, Porirua City Council, Hutt City Council and Upper Hutt City Council in building household and community water resilience and strengthening water infrastructure.
Judges praised the programme as a “Superb example of five councils collaborating on water management, joining together to strengthen asset management and put in place a strategic approach to water supply resilience in the Wellington Region.”
LGNZ President Dave Cull says that being named as a finalist is a significant achievement and reflects strong leadership and the innovative work being delivered by councils across the country.
“The finalists include some exceptional projects that are having a profound impact on communities. The EXCELLENCE Awards finalists all demonstrate innovation, excellence in communication and consultation to involve communities in the decisions and planning which frame their future.”
The finalists incorporate best practice criteria under 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.“
This year saw the highest number of entries in the Awards’ history. Winners will be announced at the LGNZ conference dinner in Christchurch on 16 July.