Local Government Magazine

Grey District Identity Project highly commended

At the 2015 LGNZ EXCELLENCE Awards.

Fulton Hogan EXCELLENCE Award for Community Impact.

Highly Commended: Grey District Council – The Heart of the West Coast, Grey District Identity Project

The Heart of the West Coast, Grey District Identity Project was developed in response to the ‘perfect storm’ in the wake of the Pike River disaster, global recession, the effects of the Canterbury earthquakes and the closure of Spring Creek Mine.

It set out to grow confidence and pride in the district and build a stronger community following these tragedies and challenges. The goal was to change negative perceptions of the Grey District and Greymouth, boosting ‘self-image’ among local communities and outside of the area.

From conversations with the community, it was clear people wanted to move the conversations and messages about Greymouth and the wider district ‘away from disaster and grief to celebrating the beauty and strength of the people and the place’.

The project was carried out in three stages, with each achieving significant public buy-in. Initiatives included rebranding, a campaign inviting members of the community to submit ‘real stories’ about the area, a 150th anniversary celebration and developing a public art framework.

Communities got on board with more than 400 story postcards received by the council, with 25 artists participating – including ‘pop-up’ art displays in empty shops. Ultimately, a survey showed that the number of residents agreeing the area is a great place to live had almost doubled. The project was not intended as a tourism or marketing strategy but outcomes will help the council communicate the district’s unique identity as the Heart of the West Coast.

Awards judges praised the scheme as imaginative, well-executed and a good example of a council responding during hard times.

LGNZ president Lawrence Yule said it had been an important initiative, run in partnership with local agencies and organisations.

“It shows a council that is closely in touch with its community and willing to be innovative and provide leadership to rebuild confidence in the district.”

This article was first published in the August 2015 issue of NZ Local Government Magazine.

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