Auckland parks receive international award

Publish Date : 04 Dec 2023
Tāwharanui Regional Park - New Zealand’s first integrated open sanctuary.
Wenderholm Regional Park.
Western Springs
Community planting at Western Springs.
Arataki Updated
Arataki Visitor Centre in Waitākere Regional Park.
Maungawhau / Mt Eden's tihi /summit boardwalk extension.
Pukekawa / Auckland Domain Wintergardens.
Ambury Regional Park.

Auckland Council’s park management has been hailed as world-leading by an international panel of judges from the World Urban Parks (WUP) network.

The council recently received the prestigious Legacy Award for 2023 – one of WUP’s top honours in recognition of our “exceptional contribution to the urban parks, open space, and recreation sector”.

Auckland joins Melbourne and New York as only the third city in the world to win this special accolade.

The award acknowledges the council’s “remarkable achievements” to develop parks and open spaces everyone can enjoy and recognises initiatives that inspire other cities to shape urban landscapes around the world for the better. Our strong commitment to biodiversity has also been praised.

Taryn Crewe, the council’s General Manager of Parks and Community Facilities, is grateful the skill and expertise of her wider team has been acknowledged at helping to enhance Auckland’s green spaces.

Maungawhau /Mt Eden.

Maungawhau /Mt Eden.

“Tāmaki Makaurau is consistently recognised as one of the most ‘liveable’ cities in the world – thanks in part to the number, accessibility and quality of our parks. Now, it’s fantastic to see the innovative way we look after this significant treasure getting noticed on a global scale too.”

Head of Specialist Operations for Parks and Community Facilities Martin van Jaarsveld also credits the hard work and long-term approach to our park kaitiaki / guardians who have committed over decades to develop green spaces for generations to come.

“The Legacy Award is presented to an organisation only once every two years. It sets a global gold standard for all park managers and stewards for how we deliver effective kaitiaki of our parks. It is certainly an honour to be acknowledged internationally,” Martin says.  

Pukekawa / Auckland Domain.

Pukekawa / Auckland Domain.

Principal Parks Advisor Thomas Dixon says Aucklanders should thank past city planners for their groundwork to establish an extensive park network that today gives us easy access to nature, in the council’s WUP award entry.

From the 1950s onwards, a transformative piece of work began to preserve and provide recreational access to kilometres of coastline and native forest in Tāmaki Makaurau. This paved the way for what is now recognised as a world-leading regional parks network in Auckland, with 28 regional parks covering more than 45,000 hectares, including 20,000 ha of native forest and 1,000 km of undeveloped coastline – attracting 7 million visitors now each year.

Auckland also has 4,000 local parks and reserves managed and cared for by the council, covering nearly 11% of our city’s total land area. This network of urban green space provides opportunities to recreate, connect with nature and with each other, as well as supporting our resilience to climate change initiatives. 

In the last financial year alone, 34,000 volunteers planted 200,000 plants in parks, with the combined ability to remove nearly 350,000 metric tonnes of C02 by 2050. This helps to deliver some of the key aims of our Urban Ngahere (Forest) Strategy, another innovative approach to outline a vision for the city’s future ‘green network’.

Another iconic point in history has been the way Te Ao Māori is being celebrated in open spaces by Aucklanders. One key example is through the Tūpuna Maunga Authority, a co-governance partnership between Ngā Mana Whenua o Tāmaki Makaurau and Auckland Council. In 2014, fourteen Tūpuna Maunga /ancestral mountains, were returned to mana whenua in recognition of their historical, spiritual, ancestral and cultural significance. As a result of this partnership these taonga (the maunga) are flourishing.  

Young Leaders Award

Auckland Council’s Regional Work Programme Lead Hannah Chapman-Carr has also been commended by World Urban Parks judges this year.

Described as a true trailblazer in her field, Hannah has received the 2023 WUP Young Leaders Award for those under 30 in recognition of her significant achievements and impactful leadership in urban sustainability. 

Since joining the parks team as a highly-qualified graduate in 2017, Hannah quickly progressed to a senior role leading a programme of work on sustainability and climate change impact, before accepting a secondment role managing the council’s entire Cemetery Services team.

Her leadership potential was further recognised when she was awarded the council’s Te Pou Emerging Talent Award in 2020.

She then took on the regional role of programme lead this year, at the age of 27 – developing and managing assets across the entire Auckland parks network, including regional parks, cemeteries, holiday parks and urban green spaces.

“I’ve always wanted to pursue better, more sustainable ways of looking after our environment and the many incredible facilities we are lucky to have that enhance our lives. We’ve made significant strides in the past few years to set these important assets up well for the future – but we can always do more to improve urban living,” Hannah says.

Hannah regularly shares her expertise with professional networks and speaks at conferences – providing specialist technical advice and research on sustainability, park engagement and park ‘future proofing’ at a regional and international level. She is also gaining governance experience as a committee member, board chair, and aspiring director.

About World Urban Parks

The WUP network now spans 35 countries and aims to help cities around the world create healthier, more sustainable communities by optimising their use of green spaces. WUP's annual awards are one of the ways it does this, by showcasing excellence and encouraging shared knowledge.

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