Porirua City Council has won the top honour at the Local Government NZ (LGNZ) EXCELLENCE Awards 2022 for its efforts in restoring the health of hundreds of kilometres of streams and its hallowed harbour.
Porirua beat city and district councils from all around New Zealand to win the Fulton Hogan Local Excellence Award, after earlier being named the winner of the Air New Zealand EXCELLENCE Award for Environmental Wellbeing for its Streamside Project 2021-2041.
The awards were announced at the LGNZ Fulton Hogan Conference Dinner in Palmerston North on Friday, 22 July.
Streamside Project 2021-2041, designed to rejuvenate streams flowing into Te Awarua-o-Porirua Harbour and its health and mana, beat three other category winners, six highly commended councils and 11 other finalists in the annual awards.
Selwyn District Council won the Creative New Zealand EXCELLENCE Award for Cultural Wellbeing for Te Ara Ātea, a district-wide cultural facility in Rolleston’s new town centre.
Central Hawke’s Bay District Council won the MartinJenkins EXCELLENCE Award for Economic Wellbeing for Jobs in Central Hawke’s Bay, which has achieved transformational change.
And Hutt City Council’s Te Awa Kairangi Kai Collective – a community-led initiative helping put food on the table during the Covid-19 pandemic – won the Kāinga Ora Homes and Communities EXCELLENCE Award for Social Wellbeing.
LGNZ president Stuart Crosby applauded the winners and all finalists for their initiatives that are “central to the wellbeing of their communities”.
“There are some exceptional projects in these awards and the sectors should be incredibly proud of their achievements.
“What councils are able to achieve using their local knowledge and relationships is incredible. Their works extend far beyond rubbish, roads and water.
“The 2022 finalists exemplify the value of building strong partnerships to develop and deliver solutions and services that support the wellbeing of millions of New Zealanders.”
Crosby said councils had faced a number of challenges in the past few years, including making sure core services were delivered throughout lockdowns and alert level changes.
“It’s heartening to see what councils have been able to do for their communities in the middle of a pandemic. These awards exemplify collaboration with local businesses, iwi and community organisations.”
In assessing the 21 finalists, the judging panel noted that councils were “playing a bigger role in social cohesion” and commended the councils that had chosen different ways to make a social contribution and those that had tackled the bigger problems.
“There are more complex social issues that local governments are having to bend their minds to,” they said.
The panel praised Porirua’s streamside project for its clever use of information and evidence, and engaging the community in the 20-year project.
“The results are impressive,” they said. “They have used the evidence well and combined with community partnerships. The outcome is strengthening sustainability.
“A lot of other councils could use this approach,” they said.
Porirua’s 20-year project has already attracted $3 million in government funding, with the council way ahead of its targets in millions of stream plantings.
“This project ticked all the boxes when it came to winning government funding,” Environment Minister David Parker said in April.
Te Awarua-o-Porirua Harbour is a taonga and of great significance to Ngāti Toa and the city as a whole.
Selwyn District Council provided three entries in the awards and were also highly commended for their economic project – Selwyn Works: New Employment Approaches to Drive Economic Growth.
Rangitikei District Council’s Tutaenui Reserve Restoration, which has turned a raw water source into a recreational playground, and Rotorua Lakes Council’s Te Puna a Pekehaua – joint consenting with Ngāti Rangiwewehi, which involves a complex resource consent for drinking water, were highly commended in the environmental category.
Three councils were highly commended in the social wellbeing category: Hastings District Council for its revitalisation programme Pāharakeke, kua tae te wa! It's Flaxmere's Time!; Ōpōtiki District Council’s Ōpōtiki Our Way – Covid Preparedness and Response; and Tauranga City Council’s Kāinga Tupu – Collaborating to Tackle Homelessness.
The award for Outstanding Contribution to Local Government 2022 went to Whakatāne District Council Strategic Projects Manager Jeff Farrell for his tireless work behind the scenes over 40 years.
The awards, now in their eighth year, recognise and celebrate the key leadership role local government provides, and the work it undertakes to promote and grow the wellbeing of communities throughout New Zealand.
“Awards like these highlight best-practice in their sectors. It provides a platform for innovative initiatives and ways of working to be acknowledged,” Crosby said.
Local authorities were invited to submit award applications in four categories:
- Creative New Zealand EXCELLENCE Award for Cultural Wellbeing
- MartinJenkins EXCELLENCE Award for Economic Wellbeing
- Air New Zealand EXCELLENCE Award for Environmental Wellbeing
- Kāinga Ora Homes and Communities EXCELLENCE Award for Social Wellbeing
Judges for the awards were: Caren Rangi, Chair, Creative New Zealand; Michael Mills, Director, MartinJenkins; Andrew McKenzie, Chief Executive, Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities; Reuben Levermore, Head of Government and Regional Affairs, Air New Zealand.