Love our Wetlands Waiheke project a finalist in Local Government EXCELLENCE Awards

Publish Date : 15 Jun 2021
Love our Wetlands Waiheke project a finalist in Local Government EXCELLENCE Awards
Photo credit: Love our Wetlands Waiheke.

Waiheke Local Board and Waiheke Resources Trust (WRT) are among finalists in the 2021 Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) EXCELLENCE Awards, for their Love our Wetlands Waiheke (LOWW) project.

This is the seventh year the awards have been presented, to recognise and celebrate the key leadership role local government provides and the work it undertakes to promote and grow the well-being of communities throughout New Zealand. 

The award criteria is for a project or programme that has enhanced the environmental well-being of its city, district or region; and/or demonstrates a sustainable process, with durable results; and/or instances where significant improvements in health and safety have taken place. 

LOWW takes a whole-of-landscape approach to restoring wetlands and has planted over 24,000 eco-sourced native trees with help from over 2850 volunteers. Since 2015, Waiheke Local Board has funded grants up to $150,000 a year to the LOWW project. 

Waiheke Local Board chair Cath Handley says it’s an honour for the board to support such important and effective environmental, community-led work on the island.

“It’s been fantastic to see those involved in the project working so hard to help restore the mauri of our wonderful Waiheke wetlands, which in turn helps restore the health of the Hauraki Gulf, and we’re thrilled that this important work is being recognised.”

WRT works with the Waiheke community, schools and corporate volunteers to restore several significant wetlands using a methodical weed management plan that is spray-free, uses minimal herbicide and prioritises manual control, achieving a 90 per cent planting success rate. 

WRT Partnerships Manager Kristin Busher says wetlands are beautiful, hard-working ecosystems and there are too few of them left in New Zealand.

“This is a chance to celebrate Waiheke's returning wetland habitats and all the amazing support from donors and volunteers across the Waiheke and Auckland community who have helped bring them back. 

“It's also great to be able to demonstrate the results of social procurement. When contracts are awarded to the community sector, the environmental and social benefits are huge.

LGNZ President Stuart Crosby explains that the finalist projects exemplify the exceptional service and value that local councils provide to support environmental, economic, social and cultural well-being of communities throughout New Zealand. 

The other environment category finalists are Canterbury Regional Council for development of a constructed wetland, and Hamilton City Council for its new rubbish and recycling service. 

The award judges 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. 

The awards are open to all of New Zealand’s 78 local authorities. Winners will be announced at the LGNZ conference dinner in Blenheim on 16 July.

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