Waiau School’s new swimming pool is a finalist in the 2019 Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) EXCELLENCE Awards for the creation of a new 25-metre solar-heated lane pool, both for students and the whole of its rural community.

The awards, now in their sixth year, recognise and celebrate the key leadership role local government plays within communities around the country.

The loss of the Waiau School Pool after the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake devastated the community. The pool, opened in 1928 and owned by the school, was more than just a place for children learning to swim and keep safe in the water. It was a community hub connecting a geographically widespread community.

The Hurunui District Council was empowered and supported the community to re-build the Waiau Swimming Pool as a shared community space. The rebuild involved the whole community connecting and collaborating and its success has strengthened its resilience and brought people together.

The council is a finalist in the EXCELLENCE Award for Social Well-being.

The award criteria is for a project that enhances the social well-being of its community, demonstrating strong community involvement  and improved integration of information, service delivery and processes to ensure the organisation is responsive, and citizen-centric.

Judges praised the project for its “leadership in bringing a tiny community together in a time of adversity”.

LGNZ President Dave Cull said being named as a finalist is a significant achievement and reflects strong leadership and the innovative work being delivered by councils across the country.

“These EXCELLENCE Awards demonstrate the value local government provides to community, economic development, infrastructure and the environment,” said Mr Cull.

“The sector should be incredibly proud of its achievements as we celebrate these outstanding projects. The finalist projects are real examples of how local government delivers exemplary value and services to New Zealanders in a collaborative and inclusive way.”

Judges for the awards are 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.

Category winners will be announced at a gala dinner during the LGNZ Conference, to be held in Wellington on 8 July 2019.

The 14 finalists for the LGNZ EXCELLENCE Awards 2019 are:

EXCELLENCE Award for Social Well-being

  • Hurunui District Council: Taking the Plunge – The Story of HDC and the Waiau Pool – A post-earthquake project to successfully rebuild the Waiau School and Community Pool.
  • Kāpiti Coast District Council: Dudley Creek – Youth Development Centre Initiative – This project addressed young people’s needs for space and activities to connect and support them in their community.
  • Napier City Council: Andersen Park Playground – A new playground that caters to all abilities and all ages featuring New Zealand’s tallest playground tower, a wheelchair accessible mini-tower, climbing and swing structures, water play, functional artwork and interactive elements.
  • Palmerston North City Council – Festival of Cultures – An annual weeklong event celebrating diversity and encouraging celebration and connection through music, film, performance, cultural dress, craft and food.

MartinJenkins EXCELLENCE Award for Economic Well-being

  • Hastings District Council – Te Ara Kahikatea – Whakatu Arterial Link: A journey of cultural inclusiveness and community empowerment – The construction of an arterial route improving the district’s economic and social well-being, following extensive community consultation.
  • Thames-Coromandel District Council – Whitianga Town Centre Upgrade: Stage One – This project is the first stage of upgrading the town centre to a mixed-use space, involving the renewal of underground infrastructure, widening footpaths, landscaping, town square and plaza installation, and a playground upgrade.
  • Wellington City Council – Wellington Waterfront – The 18-year transformation of Wellington’s waterfront to become the gateway to Wellington. The waterfront is now a multi-use space, harnessing award-winning design and architecture with heritage and culture.
  • Waitaki District Council – H2OurHealth – Waitaki Water for Connected Communities – The construction of a 34-kilometre pipeline from Oamaru to Hampden to supply safe and reliable drinking water.

Air New Zealand EXCELLENCE Award for Environmental Well-being

  • Hamilton City Council – Helping New Zealanders See the Light – The installation of 13,000 customised LED streetlights which has reduced costs to the city and significantly improved both road safety and environmental outcomes.
  • Taranaki Regional Council – Riparian Management Programme – A large-scale restorative freshwater programme supporting native habitats and improved ecological health.
  • Thames-Coromandel District Council – The Coromandel Electric Vehicle Touring Loop – A network of fast charging stations at key points around the Coromandel, putting the entire district in range of electric vehicle travel.

Creative New Zealand EXCELLENCE Award for Cultural Well-being

  • Gisborne District Council – Tupapa – Our Stand. Our Story – A bilingual, multimedia resource developed with local iwi to tell the region’s story: a dual heritage of great navigators and first arrivals in New Zealand.
  • Hamilton City Council – Maangai Māori – Creating History in Hamilton – A project designed to give Māori a strong and meaningful voice in running the city of Hamilton.
  • Wellington City Council – Visa Wellington on a Plate – Visa Wellington on a Plate is New Zealand’s largest culinary festival celebrating food, community and culture while supporting Wellington’s restaurants using local Wellington produce.

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