A team of Western Bay of Plenty and Tauranga council managers have taken out a competition known as the "Golden Shears" of New Zealand's local government.
The New Zealand leg of the Australasian Management Challenge was held in Upper Hutt last month and involved 15 teams from around New Zealand.
Western Bay of Plenty District Council, Tauranga City Council, and Bay of Plenty Regional Council were all represented.
But it was the Western Bay and Tauranga that reigned supreme; being named the winner and runner-up of the competition, respectively.
Western Bay senior policy analyst Matt Leighton said the event was much like New Zealand's Golden Shears "but for council management skills".
Teams representing different arms of councils came together to act as a fictional council. They were tasked with issues involving community engagement, risk analysis, presentation, conflict resolution, report writing and teamwork.
Each team was marked on its performance over several challenges designed to simulate real council and community issues.
These included a radio interview about council investment in a royal visit to its fictional district; considering trialling robotic reception staff; dealing with co-governance with iwi of a public reserve; address a neighbourhood dispute regarding fences, and presenting on the potential redevelopment of a large industrial site.
"It's a full-on day," Leighton said.
The Western Bay council had previously won in 2011. Winning again was a goal for the team, he said.
"The top spot is often hard-fought ... The training involved practising tasks from previous years and working on the core skills expected. Luckily there was no requirement for any crazy 5am gym sessions."
Leighton said being considered the top team in the country was a big honour especially given the strong competition.
Tauranga City Council's Susan Jamieson said the challenge was "a fantastic professional development opportunity that has given the team a deeper insight into the wide range of work that councils undertake with the community".
Jamieson said it was great to see the Bay of Plenty well represented.
"Whilst we would have loved to win, the team is proud that our neighbouring Western Bay of Plenty Council team took out the honours, and will face the Australian councils at the Australasian finals in Darwin next month."
Team registration cost $5500 each, covered by council training budgets.