Councils have always served their communities well, but this year’s crop of winners for the Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) EXCELLENCE Awards show just how transformative they can be.
Hastings and Ōpōtiki district councils and Hamilton City Council scooped the main prizes at the awards ceremony in Blenheim tonight for their outstanding community projects. Their diverse projects include an aquaculture venture for harvesting local kaimoana, an innovative rubbish and recycling service, a vibrant performing arts and events precinct, and a partnership to deal with the local housing shortage.
Judges for the awards were former Wellington Mayor Dame Kerry Prendergast, distinguished diplomat and public servant Sir Maarten Wevers, and Executive Director of the New Zealand Initiative, Dr Oliver Hartwich. They praised councils’ innovation, especially in the social space, in what had been a very unusual year, with the global pandemic putting significant pressure on the country, communities and councils.
“The 14 finalist entries included some exceptional projects that are having a massive impact on their communities. Overall, the judges felt that the strongest entries demonstrated strong leadership, innovation and proven results over long periods of time,” said Dame Kerry Prendergast.
LGNZ’s annual awards, which are open to all New Zealand’s 78 local authorities, recognise and celebrate excellence of work undertaken by local councils to promote and grow the well-being of communities.
2021 LGNZ EXCELLENCE Awards winners:
- Ōpōtiki District Council (in partnership with Whakatōhea) won the MartinJenkins EXCELLENCE Award for Economic Well-being and the overall award for the Ōpōtiki Harbour Transformation Project. The Council also won the Local EXCELLENCE Award in recognition of the increased value, benefit or improvements to the overall well-being of the people within their town, city, district or region.
- Hastings District Council won both the Kāinga Ora Homes and Communities EXCELLENCE Award for Social Well-being for its highly successful Place-Based Housing Plan, and the Creative New Zealand EXCELLENCE Award for Cultural Well-being for the Toitoi – Hawke’s Bay Arts & Events Centre project. It was also highly commended in the Social Well-being category for its Mahi for Youth Programme.
- Hamilton City Council won the Air New Zealand EXCELLENCE Award for Environmental Well-being for its new rubbish and recycling service.
- Auckland Council received the Te Tari Taiwhenua Internal Affairs EXCELLENCE Award for Outstanding Contribution to Local Government during the COVID-19 response. The Te Tari Taiwhenua award usually acknowledges a single person’s outstanding contribution to local government sector over their career, but the organisation broke with tradition this year, to focus on recognising the great efforts of the local government sector throughout the pandemic.
Sir Maarten Wevers said: “Being recognised in the LGNZ Excellence Awards is a significant achievement, particularly after such a difficult year, and reflects strong leadership and the innovative work being delivered by councils across the country.”