2017 project category winners

Thirty three entries were received across a range of local government activity – from the preservation of historical heritage to managing freshwater. The winner of the Supreme Award, selected from the six project categories, was the Draft Waimakariri Residential Red Zone Recovery Plan submitted by Waimakariri District Council.

Innovation in Organisation and People Development Category – Waikato Regional Council for their project: Basic Investigative Skills for Local Government Training Programme. The judges also highly commended Rotorua Lakes Council for this project: Te Amorangi ki Mua, Te Haāpai ō Ki Muri – Bicultural Capability Development Programme.

Waikato Regional Council’s Basic Investigative Skills (BIS) programme helps councils prepare their compliance and enforcement staff with skills and tools to consistently and transparently gather information when investigating possible breaches of the RMA; make good decisions and take the right action. Now in its fifth edition, the programme consists of a comprehensive users’ manual and a four day workshop. The programme has been continuously refined since Waikato Region trialled it ‘in house’ in 2006 and has been rolled out to 25 councils and some 500 recipients.

The judges said:

The BIS programme addresses a significant area of risk in an activity that is one of the fundamentals of local government. BIS embodies several of the values that the award promotes. This is a striking example of the sector’s ability to share good practice – Waikato Region developed this for their own staff, now the programme is in use in around a third of the sector. The programme also embodies a continuous improvement ethos, with the developer regularly improving the course, including getting independent review of their enforcement practice. A great result for the sector, and for local communities.

Above: Vaughan Payne (L), Patrick Lynch (R) and Barbara McKerrow

LGFA Transforming Service Delivery Category – Christchurch City Council for their project: Partnership Approvals. The partnership approvals service is an example of the case management approach that agencies such as the Productivity Commission have recommended that local authorities adopt when undertaking complex consenting or licensing activity. Partnership approvals assists a client to identify and obtain timely regulatory approvals and compliance on large development projects. The case manager provides a single point of contact for the customer, generally has specific expertise in the type of project or consent, and helps the customer avoid issues proactively. The case manager does not function as an advocate on behalf of the project. SOLGM understands some 200 project clients have been through this process including commercial builders, community groups and large organisations such as Environment Canterbury.

The judges said:

The Transforming Service Delivery Category recognises projects or programmes that have resulted in a change in the way users experience the service. We understand the partnership approvals process is now promoted by MBIE, and has been the subject of discussion with other councils. In making the award this year we recognise the nature of the transformative journey that Christchurch has undertaken to get from their starting point to where they are now with consenting large or specialised projects. This journey has taken place against the backdrop of pressing needs arising from the earthquakes, and improvements across the range of consenting practice and systems.

Above: Mark Butcher (L), Leonie Rae and Andrea Mulder (R)

BERL Innovation in Council Community Relations Category – Waimakariri District Council for their project: Draft Waimakariri Residential Red Zone Recovery Plan which also won them the Supreme Award. In December 2016, the Government approved the Waimakariri Residential Red Zone Recovery Plan, which sets out how approximately 100 hectares of red-zoned land will be used in the short and long-term. This integrates with the surrounding areas and plans to restore community assets to pre-quake status. This entry focusses on the processes for engaging with a diverse community that was showing some signs of fatigue both with consultation and the personal impacts of the earthquakes and their aftermath. Council’s engagement with the community utilised a 3D model of the affected areas and the impact of the proposals. During workshops the community were invited to attach ‘flags’ to the model showing likes (blue) dislikes (red) and new ideas (pink). Council used online ‘flyover videos’ to extend the reach to those who could not attend the workshops. The council reports that there were some 30,000 interactions and 4,000 comments received through the process.

The judges said:

The Red Zone Recovery Plan was a mission critical deliverable for the Council and the community. The timeframe and degree of community fatigue made this that much more challenging. The Council’s approach is innovative, interactive and engaging. It draws people into interacting, and above all, makes it easy to participate. We were particularly impressed with the way in which young people participated in the process, even to the extent of guidance and advice on making effective presentations to Council. We see applications across the range of planning and service delivery including land use planning, transport planning, environmental management (especially natural hazards) and urban planning.

Above: Jim Palmer

Collaborative Government Action Category – Kapiti Coast District Council: Getting Mackays to Peka Peka Expressway on the Road. The Council joined the McKays to Peka Peka Alliance, a private sector consortium established by the New Zealand Transport Agency to design and build the McKays to Peka Peka Expressway. The project was a highly strategic decision for Council, taken in recognition both of the impact that the lack of a second route was having on the overall quality of life, and in recognition of the substantial community concern. Through its representation on the governance and management groups, the Council was able to successfully negotiate a better overall result for the community than it might otherwise have had.The judges said: This is a highly transferable example of a collaborative approach turning a politically challenging community concern into an opportunity. The Council has shown this collaborative model can be adapted to engagement with other land transport projects, with a town centre review, with a community futures project and with other engagement on topics such as bylaw reviews. Through effort and careful negotiation with the community, the Council and its partners in the Alliance have delivered on a project that is likely to generate a great deal of social, economic and environmental benefit for the community now and in the future. The McKays to Peka Peka Expressway opened while judging was in progress. The award recognises a smart strategic decision and the value of getting ‘inside the tent’ to achieve a real result for the community.

Above: Ganesh Nana (L), Pat Dougherty (R)

Innovation in Policy and Regulatory Development Category – New Plymouth District Council for their project: Waahi Tapu and Archaeological Sites Review. New Plymouth has one of the densest concentrations of archaeological sites in New Zealand, many of which are waahi tapu . Not all sites are known and the location of some is inaccurately recorded, which has meant some sites have been damaged. The review involved Council and iwi jointly working to identify and register the location and nature of sites in the district. This includes a process for sharing information using a web-based GIS tool (a step ahead of the paper based process in use previously). We understand that the repository of information created through this process has identified some 1500 sites (as opposed to the 700 identified in New Plymouth’s District Plan). The repository is robust and provides for the protection of sensitive information. This establishes ‘one source of truth’ that can be used to support Resource Management Act functions and planning functions as well as acting as a record of historic and cultural heritage in its own right.

The judges said:

There are two aspects that made this a winning entry – the foundation of trust and goodwill that has been built, and the smart nature of the technical solution. The location and nature of waahi tapu are deeply sensitive to iwi and hapu. The demonstrated degree of success would not have been possible without a sound foundation of trust between the Council and the 13 iwi and hapu that were involved in the review. The review tells a compelling story of an extremely successful engagement process that has lessons for councils that are transferable across all activities and local authorities. We were also impressed with the Council’s smart use of an existing tool to transform an existing process and establish a repository for no more than the cost of the staff time involved.

This year’s new category, the Minister of Local Government Innovation in Asset Management Award – Whanganui District Council for their project: Risk Based Asset Management. Risk based asset management is the Council’s name for an approach that involves the integration of ‘the right’ asset condition and performance information with hydraulic information and criticality information into a single Building Information Model (BIM). The BIM will be used as an information source for the development of the Council’s 30 Year Infrastructure Strategy, asset management plans and long-term plans. The intent is that asset decisions will be made based on a better assessment of risk and consequence, as opposed to the ‘remaining useful life’ models so often used with underground assets.

The judges said: Decision-making based on an informed assessment of risk and consequence is the way ahead for asset management, especially with water and wastewater where the degree of risk is high and asset condition not always easy to observe. Whanganui’s approach is an effective, pragmatic, evidence based approach with the potential to deliver real value for money to their community. The sector can learn much from the process through which the Council is turning a morass of data into useful information for asset management decisions.

Photos from the Gala Dinner of the winners can be found in our Facebook page.