The Bay of Plenty Regional Council has been named a finalist in the Local Government New Zealand EXCELLENCE Awards

Bay of Plenty Regional Council is a finalist in the Air New Zealand EXCELLENCE Award for Environmental Impact for its Ohiwa Harbour Strategy Implementation.

The council's Ohiwa Harbour Strategy Implementation has brought together local communities, iwi and agencies to address concerns about the health of the harbour.

It recognised the need for a collaborative response to sustainably manage the harbour and catchment in a holistic way, including improving water quality and protecting biodiversity.

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Judges praised the scheme as: "An excellent project and an example of how joined-up action can turn around a deteriorating water system, and of how local government, working with others, can address one of the big issues facing New Zealand at the moment."

LGNZ President Lawrence Yule said being named as a finalist was an impressive achievement especially considering the calibre of entrants this year.

"Local government is the lifeblood of New Zealand's communities and makes contributions to people's lives on a daily basis.

"These EXCELLENCE Awards are a chance to celebrate the great work of local government in helping shape the places we all live, work and play in.

"The 25 finalists have demonstrated innovative, courageous and creative leadership in work that provides strong benefits to community, economic development, infrastructure, the environment and arts and culture," said Mr Yule.

This year saw more entries than previous years, including many exceptional projects, and Mr Yule said it was pleasing to once again see a number of smaller councils featuring among the 25 finalists.

Judges for the awards are former Wellington Mayor Kerry Prendergast, Chair of EQC Sir Maarten Wevers and The New Zealand Initiative's Executive Director, Dr Oliver Hartwich.

Category winners will be announced at a gala dinner during the LGNZ Conference, to be held in Dunedin from July 24-26, 2016.