Fifty-six councils entered this year's Taituarā Great CD Competition. The quality of this year's entries was very high. Congratulations to the winner Waipā District Council as well as to Central Hawke’s Bay District Council which was highly commended. We hope all councils will be able to learn from these winning entries as well as the other finalists' Consultation Documents which will shortly be available on our LGSectorGoodToolkit.

In August we called for entries for our Great CD (Consultation Document) Competition. Entries closed on 16 August 2021. The next day our country learned of the first case in the current Delta outbreak. We went into lockdown – most of us for four weeks.

We would like to thank the panel of six judges who all were able to deliver their assessments of a record 56 entries on a reduced timeframe. While three of the judges came from councils that entered, they all refrained from assessing their own councils' Consultation Documents as well as from championing them in the final selection.

Sharing best practice 

The Great CD Competition is held not only to recognise best practice within the sector, but also to offer what we believe is a valuable learning opportunity. The diversity of great ideas and approaches exhibited by Aotearoa New Zealand's 78 councils is something that should be celebrated and shared with fellow local government colleagues across the motu.

We have asked the top 10 finalist councils announced last week to make their Consultation Documents available for Taituarā to share with other councils on our LGSectorGoodToolkit. Seven of the 10 finalists have already done so. We are grateful for your support.

Quality increasing

We have a few reflections on the Consultation Documents overall. This is the third set of Consultation Documents required under new legislation – and we have to say that the sector has fully grasped what is expected. This year the Consultation Documents were marked to the same criteria as those submitted in 2018, albeit with a more defined marking schedule.

The average mark has increased from 66 in 2018 to 73 this time. And while there was a slightly wider distribution of marks, this reflects a lifting of marks at the top, and in the middle. There were only three councils scoring in the 50s this year, with the majority of councils scoring in the late 60s.

The improvement at the top has been considerable. In 2015, one council scored in the 80s, last time there were five, and this time there were 12. The winning score from 2015 would have placed a council eleventh equal this time!

This year a large number of regional councils entered the competition for the first time. We noted three regional councils made the top twelve this year – well done to Hawke's Bay Regional Council, Greater Wellington Regional Council and Northland Regional Council.

What makes a good consultation document?

As always the judges have rewarded brevity, clarity and creativity. It is no accident that the longer Consultation Documents tended to finish at the back of the field. And as we did the moderation two weeks ago the question that our judges were frequently asking was 'did the Consultation Document make me want to read it?', and with these entries the answer is a resounding 'yes'.

The name of the Taituarā guide to the Consultation Document is 'Telling Our Stories'. A good Consultation Document has a clear, coherent narrative of a council’s vision for the community and the role that councils play in shaping that community. For ‘pure’ Long-term Plan storytelling as a craft, it is extremely hard to go past Hauraki District Council’s 'Alice in our Place'. The story Hauraki District Council tells would be hard to construct without an in-depth knowledge of, and more than that a genuine connection with and affinity for their community. In other years this may well have been the runaway winner.

Central Hawke's Bay District Council highly commended

This year the judges chose to award a highly commended award in addition to a winner. This goes to Central Hawke's Bay District Council for its Consultation Document titled 'Facing the Facts'.

The judges recognised its bright vibrant design, use of symbols, and infographics. There were clearly identifiable themes as well as one of the best, and most consistent, presentations of options. This is a council that has significantly upped its game in the area of community engagement over the last few years and this shows in the design of its excellent Consultation Document.

Waipā District Council takes top spot

This year the judges have recognised a Consultation Document that showed clear evidence of an upfront strategic direction and its link to the key issues. Combined with a succinct analysis of the options, excellent summaries and graphic design, it is also a pleasure to read.

In 2018, this council received a highly commended, this year they go a step higher. The winner is Waipā District Council for its Consultation Document titled 'What’s Next Waipā?'.

Taituarā would like to congratulate and thank all 56 councils which took part this year. We encourage all council employees involved in community engagement and in preparing long-term plans to review the finalists' Consultation Documents on our LGSectorGoodToolkit.