On its one year anniversary, the city's newest landmark He Ara Kotahi exceeded more than 600,000 using the pathway.

Another win for the pathway was the Palmerston North City Council named the supreme winner at the 2020 Public Relations Institute Awards with He Ara Kotahi, the pathway that got a city to fall back in love with its river.

The He Ara Kotahi campaign also won gold in the Limited Budget or Not-for-Profit award category with winners announced at a virtual Awards Gala.

Council general manager marketing and communications Sacha Haskell said it was "a fabulous achievement and recognition of the work of our entire communications team who managed this project on a less than $500 budget".


"Council communications adviser Olivia Wix led the communications and publicity around the opening of the bridge and was well-supported by all of the comms team.

"To see our community fall in love with our awa once more has been the biggest reward."

The 2020 PRINZ Awards which attracted 69 entries across 14 categories, recognise excellence in New Zealand's public relations and communications industry, promoting continuous improvement and celebrating outstanding work.

The awards were judged by life members, fellows and senior practitioners of PRINZ with the assistance of international colleagues.

Chief Judge Kate Woodruffe described the campaign as 'impressive' and said it delivered outstanding results particularly considering the short lead-time and minimal budget.

"This campaign demonstrates the significant impact public relations can make even despite working with a minimal budget.

"The team made excellent use of in-house resource such as video and was a good example of what can be achieved through the intelligent use of social media.

"Overall, a very successful campaign, substantially exceeding objectives, which was well-planned on a minimal budget."


Coverage of He Ara Kotahi's opening was on every news show from breakfast to evening on TVNZ, Newshub and RNZ.

There were 65 online news stories in the first month, including international media attention.

Council's social media posts in the first two months after opening reached 236,000 people and were shared almost 3700 times, and does not include social media coverage by any other organisation.

The social media coverage also had a major impact on council's website, with more than 47,000 link clicks.

In the opening week, He Ara Kotahi became the city's most popular website page ever.

Viewers read for an average of six minutes, and the map was downloaded 209 times in the first weekend.

A total of 12,000 people used He Ara Kotahi on opening weekend and in the first two months of He Ara Kotahi being open, the council's tracker recorded 111,000 groups using the pathway.

A council spokesperson said the Manawatū River Framework is one of the council's top priorities, so media, social media and community engagement will continue.

"Any social media posts involving the river are always the highest performing on our social media channels, and we expect that to continue."

Also, at the awards, senior communications adviser Sandra Crosbie was awarded her accreditation as a public relations practitioner having undertaken the PRINZ APR programme last year.

There are only around 200 practitioners with this accreditation in New Zealand.