Last week more than 300 guests representing councils from across Aotearoa spent an evening celebrating the innovation and excellence taking place in councils from Cape Reinga to the Bluff. This included the presentation of the 2021 LGFA Local Government Excellence Awards.

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Compèred by Oscar Kightley the Samoan-born New Zealand actor, director and comedian of Sione's Wedding, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, and Moana fame, the  evening was an opportunity for those working in New Zealand's local government sector to network, share best-practice, and celebrate the outstanding mahi of the recipients recognised through a range of awards. The dinner took place at Te Papa and was accompanied by the soulful renditions of many classic jazz numbers courtesy of the Wellington-based band Whiskey at Midnight.

The Hon. Nanaia Mahuta, Minister of Local Government, addressed the audience voicing her strong support for the sector, as well as emphasising the role of local government has in promoting well-being in our diverse communities, a key point in the recent 'Future for Local Government' announcement she made last month. 

During the dinner the winners of the 2021 LGFA Local Government Awards were announced. These were:

The LGFA Supreme Winner was awarded to Western Bay of Plenty District Council for their entry 'Transfer of Ownership of Panepane Purakau', an initiative to return 172 hectares of land to the five hāpu of Matakana Island. The judges said that the return of Panepane Purakau is an exemplary initiative of successful engagement with Māori. There were strong elements of co-design of a proposed way forward, appropriate investments in relationships before the engagement began, and participants in the process were prepared to commit the time and resources necessary to succeed and seek a win-win solution. They commended the partners for working together to right an historical wrong that fell outside the Treaty settlement process.

A number of individuals were also recognised for their exceptional contributions to their councils through the Emerging Leader of the Year Award, two Overseas Manager Exchanges one sponsored by Marsh and the other by Civic Financial Services, as well as The AskYourTeam Melbourne Business School Leadership Scholarship.

The overall winner, as well as second and third place winners, of the NZ leg of the JLT Australasian Management Challenge held last month in Hutt City were also announced.

Taituarā congratulates all the winners of these awards and is delighted to help share the knowledge and best-practice taking place within individual councils further afield, so others can learn from the innovation taking place nationally.