Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s innovative Ōhiwa Harbour Strategy Implementation project is a finalist in the 2016 Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) EXCELLENCE Awards.
The awards, now in their third year, recognise and celebrate the outstanding leadership role local government plays within communities.
The Council is in the running for the Air New Zealand EXCELLENCE Award for Environmental Impact for its Ōhiwa Harbour Strategy Implementation.
The Strategy Implementation has brought together local communities, iwi and agencies to address concerns about the health of the harbour.
It recognised the need for a collaborative response to sustainably manage the harbour and catchment in a holistic way, including improving water quality and protecting biodiversity.
Judges praised the scheme as: “An excellent project and an example of how joined-up action can turn around a deteriorating water system, and of how local government, working with others, can address one of the big issues facing New Zealand at the moment.”
Councillor for Bay of Plenty Regional Council and Chair of the Ōhiwa Harbour Implementation Forum, Tiipene Marr, was very pleased with the announcement and said that it was an acknowledgement of the incredible work from a wide range of stakeholders.
“Ōhiwa Harbour is one of the Bay of Plenty’s taonga. The harbour and catchment have great significance to tangata whenua and those who live, work and play there.
“The Strategy is an excellent example of collaboration and coordination in a real world context. While the Regional Council takes the lead coordination role, all partners have equal standing, and planning and delivery of the work is carried out via collaborative and consultative processes,” Mr Marr said.
Four local iwi are acknowledged as kaitiaki of the Harbour and their mana whenua and mana moana are embedded in the Strategy and action plans. The Strategy sets the vision and the action items “drive us all and hold us accountable”.
“For many years now we have been working together and making great progress to improve the health of our harbour and its catchment. To be a finalist in the LGNZ awards is a fantastic recognition, not just of the approach we have taken, but also of the huge amount of work put into making this happen at all levels.
“There has been a heap of work done by the seven partner organisations [Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Ōpōtiki District Council, Whakatane District Council, Ngāti Awa, Waimana Kaaku (Tuhoe), Upokorehe and Whakatōhea] and the Department of Conservation, community, care groups and landowners have all been very involved and deserve this great recognition,” Mr Marr said.
LGNZ President Lawrence Yule said being named as a finalist is an impressive achievement especially considering the calibre of entrants this year.
“Local government is the lifeblood of New Zealand’s communities and makes contributions to people’s lives on a daily basis.
“These EXCELLENCE Awards are a chance to celebrate the great work of local government in helping shape the places we all live, work and play in,” Mr Yule said.
Judges for the awards are former Wellington Mayor Kerry Prendergast, Chair of EQC Sir Maarten Wevers and The New Zealand Initiative’s Executive Director, Dr Oliver Hartwich.
Category winners will be announced at a gala dinner during the LGNZ Conference, to be held in Dunedin from 24-26 July, 2016.
Air New Zealand EXCELLENCE Award for Environmental Impact
Bay of Plenty Regional Council – Ōhiwa Harbour Strategy Implementation – The strategy has brought together local communities, iwi and agencies to sustainably manage the harbour and catchment in a holistic way, including improving water quality and protecting biodiversity.
Images of the Ōhiwa Harbour available on request