The Kaituna River re-diversion and Te Awa o Ngātoroirangi Maketu Estuary enhancement project has won the Rodney Davies Project Award from the New Zealand Planning Institute.

The award recognised innovation and creative excellence in the undertaking and completion of a physical work or development.

It has been awarded jointly this year to Bay of Plenty Regional Council who led and funded the $16.5 million project, and consultancy firm WSP who helped with the consenting and project management aspects of the project.

Steph Brown from WSP said it had been a fantastic experience for them to collaborate with Bay of Plenty Regional Council, stakeholders, and the community on the project.

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"Regional Council empowered the WSP planners to play an integral role throughout the project, from concept development, through consenting and appeals, to completion of construction.

"This continuity helped to ensure that the project was implemented in a collaborative way and built social capacity and knowledge throughout the community, so that they can nurture the environmental benefits of the project," she said.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council Coastal Catchments Manager Pim De Monchy said it was a privilege to work together with the community on the project which had recreated 20 hectares of wetland and returned up to 20 per cent of the Kaituna River's freshwater flows into Te Awa o Ngātoroirangi/Maketu Estuary.

"The award is a credit to everyone involved and we're really grateful for the support, patience and co-operation we received as we worked together to try and solve a really complex environmental and social challenge.

"Completion of this project is just the beginning of more work planned to be delivered with our Te Maru o Kaituna River Authority partners in the coming years, to support thriving communities and environments by improving the care of the Kaituna awa and its catchments, as outlined in Te Tini a Tuna – the Kaituna River Action Plan," De Monchy said.

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