The Northland town of Paihia has been named New Zealand's best community in the New Zealander of the Year Awards.

The award, the Mitre 10 Community of the Year, was announced at a function at Auckland's Langham Hotel last night.

The entry was organised by community trust Focus Paihia, which has spent the past five years beautifying and revitalising the town.

The judges said Focus Paihia had been working to positively change and improve its community, looking at economic, social, cultural and environmental elements across the town.

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The group's projects include beautification of the Village Green, rebuilding of public toilets once described as the worst in New Zealand, and transforming a waterfront car park into an attractive and well-used public space they named Horotutu/Our Place.

Many other community groups and initiatives were included in the entry.

The award was tinged with sadness for Focus Paihia members because the man who did much of the work behind Paihia's entry, Andrew Thomson of Waitangi, died suddenly on Boxing Day, aged 78.

The title of New Zealander of the Year went to Auckland philanthropist and businessman Stephen Tindall.

More to come in tomorrow's Northern Advocate.