Hastings and Opotiki district councils and Hamilton City Council scooped the main prizes at the LGNZ Excellence Awards at the association’s 2021 conference in Blenheim, with four outstanding community projects.
The diverse projects include an aquaculture venture, an innovative rubbish and recycling service, a vibrant performing arts and events precinct, and a partnership to deal with a local housing shortage.
Judges for the awards were former Wellington Mayor Dame Kerry Prendergast, public servant Sir Maarten Wevers, and the 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,‚ says Prendergast. “Overall, the judges felt that the strongest entries demonstrated strong leadership, innovation and proven results over long periods of time.”
Opotiki District Council (in partnership with Whakatohea) won the Martin Jenkins Excellence Award for Economic Well-being and the overall award for the Opotiki 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 Kainga 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.
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 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.”