New Zealand’s Most Beautiful Towns and Cities announced at Parliament House

Iconic kiwi charity Keep New Zealand Beautiful have announced the winners of their Beautiful Awards 2021, including New Zealand’s most beautiful towns and most beautiful cities.

Run annually since 1972 the Beautiful Awards are New Zealand’s longest-running sustainability awards and provide a benchmark for environmental excellence in Aotearoa. They inspire, recognise and acknowledge those individuals, schools, community groups, towns and cities working passionately across the country to Keep New Zealand Beautiful.

Keep New Zealand Beautiful CEO Heather Saunderson says: “We’ve been impressed with the quality of submissions to the Beautiful Awards, and the efforts and passion behind them.

“It’s been a tough year for community groups, councils and individuals alike, but their collective commitments to the environment haven’t wavered – people are doing so much with limited resources, to keep their communities beautiful,” said Ms Saunderson. “Through the Beautiful Awards we’re pleased to be able to celebrate the efforts made by community groups, schools councils and individuals who are striving to improve New Zealand’s environment and thereby the quality of life in our rural communities, urban towns and cities.”

The Awards were announced at the Beautiful Ball at Parliament House, Wellington. The Ball was originally scheduled for October 2021, however it was postponed until February 2022 due to the Covid-19 restrictions.

Towns & Cities Awards
Judged by Ms Saunderson and BusinessDesk’s Head of Lifestyle and Features Jacqui Loates-Haver this category of the Beautiful Awards recognises and celebrates beautiful towns, cities and regions across New Zealand and acknowledges the positive sustainability and climate change actions that have been taken by councils and communities over the last 12 months, to protect and enhance their local environments.

These prestigious awards review initiatives such as litter prevention, waste minimisation, community beautification and recycling projects, as wells as sustainable tourism initiatives.

Whilst all of the finalists demonstrated significant achievements in the sustainability space, the winners of the Towns & Cities Awards illustrated an exceptionally strong community spirit and have created an environment that other towns and cities would aspire to.

Each award is divided into urban area populations, which are statistically defined and are classified by the size of their resident population.

Most Beautiful Small Town (defined as a small urban area 1,000 – 9,999 residents)
The finalists for the Most Beautiful Small Town Award were:

  • Foxton
  • Kaitāia

The winner of this award is Kaitāia.

  • Key highlights: The Kaitāia community and council worked together to procure $7 million in funding towards environmental restoration initiatives. The community partnered with an enthusiastic council to manage the projects themselves, and this has resulted in a waterfall effect across the entire region. Local contractors have received training to bid on the council projects, ensuring the funding and jobs stay in the community.

Most Beautiful Large Town (defined as a medium urban area 10,000 – 29,999 residents)
The finalists for the Most Beautiful Large Town Award were:

  • Taupō
  • Whakatāne

The winner of this award is Taupō.

  • Key highlights: The Taupō community is working with businesses to conduct waste audits and have achieved a 90% diversion from landfill with this programme. They have also created a new natural burial zone which provides people in the Taupō District a greater choice in how they wish their remains to be returned to the earth, whilst also reducing environmental pollutions that is created by the embalming process and/or cremation.

Most Beautiful Small City (defined as a large urban area 30,000 – 99,999 residents)
The finalists for the Most Beautiful Large Town Award were:

  • Hastings
  • Whanganui

The winner of this award is Hastings.

  • Key highlights: Hastings, 2020’s Supreme Towns & Cities Award winner, has built on their waste and litter prevention campaign which features two mascots – Luke the Litter Legend and Colin the Cheeky Chucker, creating a fun and engaging way for children to learn about litter. Hastings has also established an eco-committee, initiated a New Zealand-first analysis into the trees in their parks and reserves and has a continued focus on sustainable tourism and community beautification.

Most Beautiful Large City (defined as a major urban area of 100,000 or more residents)
Proudly sponsored by Stand Desk
The finalists for Most Beautiful Large City Award were:

  • Wellington
  • Dunedin

The winner for this award is Wellington.

  • Key highlights: Wellington has gained global recognition and US$1 million in prize money as one of 15 cities worldwide to win the Bloomberg Mayors Challenge. Wellington’s winning project, a Digital Twin, is a virtual representation of the systems and things that make up the city, a 3D model brought to life through real time data from sensors and processes to help understand, communicate and make better decisions on how Wellington works, grows and in monitoring their zero carbon capital policy. Digital Twin was designed to be open source so that other councils, in New Zealand and globally, can utilise this technology as well.

The Beautiful Awards Supreme Towns & Cities Award
Proudly sponsored by Resene

The Supreme Towns & Cities Award winner is chosen from across all the Towns & Cities and is the judge’s top pick from an already-outstanding set of finalists.

“This is always a very hard award to judge and this year was no exception,” said Ms Saunderson. “The Towns and Cities submissions were of an extremely high standard, and the virtual tours provided great insight into the amazing environmental initiatives that have taken place.”

The winner for this award is Whakatāne

  • Key highlights: Biodiversity is a huge focal point for those in Whakatāne. The community underwent a tree audit and created tree policies so that people have a better understanding of the value of trees and how their lifespan impacts us. They have also closed the gaps in understanding between rural areas and the township, bringing a tighter cohesion to environmental efforts. The community have also created a Seed Library, and are getting local children and youth involved in plantings – around 4,800 per year.

Whakatāne will receive, as part of the Resene awards sponsorship, a mural painted in their town by a local artist up to the value of $10,000.

Other Awards celebrated at the Beautiful Awards were:

Individual Awards
The Young Legend Awards honour three outstanding volunteers who are aged under 18 years (as of 4 August 2021). These exceptional individuals will have demonstrated remarkable leadership and outreach in their community through work in one or more of the following areas; litter prevention, waste reduction, recycling promotion, community beautification.

The Young Legend recipients are:

  • Nora Quigley
  • Jemima Christie
  • Sophie Weenink

The Tidy Kiwi Award, proudly sponsored by Slingshot, recognises and rewards individuals aged over 18 years (as of 4 August 2021) who have distinguished themselves as truly extraordinary and who serve as an inspiration to us all. This award honours outstanding and exceptional leadership in litter prevention, waste reduction, recycling and beautification activities.

The Tidy Kiwi Award recipients are:

  • Kumar Kumareswaran
  • David Williams
  • Michelle Stronach-Marsh

The Local Hero Awards acknowledge extraordinary contributions at a local level made by New Zealanders in their community and recognises significant commitment to high standards in social and environmental practices.

The Local Hero Award recipients are:

  • Marshal Walia
  • Gary Mitchell
  • Anna Petchell

Community Awards
The Community Group Award recognises and honours a not-for-profit community group that contributes to enhancing the environmental and social aspects of their region and shows a strong sense of community spirit.

Winner of the Community Group Award: Rotary Cambridge

The Sustainable Schools Award, proudly sponsored by Resene, honours an ECE, school or tertiary institution for commitment and practical action to implement sustainable practices and environmental projects, which enhance the school and/or community. It also rewards schools that have placed a high importance on educating the next generation of Tidy Kiwis in sustainability.

The winner of the Sustainable Schools Award: Solway College, Wairarapa

Places Awards
The Best Loo Award recognises the best public toilet in the country. Judges take into consideration the location, the facilities, cleanliness, interior, exterior and the surrounding environment of the toilets.

The winner of the Best Loo Award: Leith Place Toilet- Tokoroa

The Best Street Award, proudly sponsored by Resene, recognises and celebrates a street in New Zealand that clearly stands out for its beauty, cleanliness, plantings and sense of community pride.

The winner of the Best Street Award: Mary Street – Thames

The Kiwis’ Choice Award, proudly sponsored by Resene, celebrates Kiwis’ favourite public spot in New Zealand, whether that be a beach, a park, a look out, a waterfall, a lake or a walking track. If it is a spot that is open to the public then it is eligible to be nominated to win this award.

The winner of the Kiwis’ Choice Award: Queens Park – Invercargill

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