Hawke's Bay Today scooped five awards and was highly commended in two other categories at Wednesday night's APN Regional Media Awards.
The newspaper won Best Front Page of the Year for the second year in a row. The win was largely thanks to the portrayal of "Evil" paedophile Aaron Ellmers. The poster-style front page on May 8 last year pictured a sinister-looking Ellmers glancing towards photographer Paul Taylor during Ellmers' court sentencing.
The award judges said: "A clear winner, with a diverse portfolio of high-octane, high-impact front pages from the use of a stunning courtroom image for the 'Evil' front page, through to innovative artwork as the newspaper put itself at the forefront of a campaign against legal highs being sold in the region. Hawke's Bay Today manages to surprise and delight with its front pages, even when dealing with difficult subject matters."
Editor Andrew Austin won Feature Writer of the Year for his work covering the funeral of Nelson Mandela last year. Mr Austin travelled to South Africa to cover the emotional farewell for the former president for Hawke's Bay Today and The New Zealand Herald.
The judge said: "Andrew brought a unique perspective to his series on the death of Nelson Mandela, his legacy to South Africa and what lies ahead in the post-Mandela world. Andrew made the most of his trip, writing in a simple but effective style, capturing the pulse of South Africa and sharing from-the-heart impressions and insights into the country he once called home."
Deputy Editor Mark Story won Columnist of the Year for his original style, personality and often humorous columns written in 2013. The judges said: "A storyteller who makes the reader want to go the distance. Crucially, he writes about locals and his own experiences."
The newspaper's advertising department also won two awards for their work in 2013. Best composite page was awarded to Hawke's Bay Today for its A-Z of Kids' Health and Safety.
Best Special/Niche publication was also awarded to the advertising department for Hawke's Bay Today's 140 Years of Hastings History.
Business Editor Patrick O'Sullivan was also highly commended in the Columnist of the Year category for his insightful pieces, including those on last summer's record drought. Reporter Anna Ferrick was highly commended for her in-depth court reporting throughout 2013, in the Junior Reporter of the Year category.
Mr Austin said he was pleased that the hard work of the entire staff had been recognised.