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nzherald.co.nz won the supreme award at last night's Canon Media awards for Best Website for the fourth time in five years.

The win is part of an extraordinary win for the New Zealand Herald which has won an unprecedented four top honours at the national media awards - declared Newspaper of the Year, best website, best daily and, for the Weekend Herald, best weekly paper.

Judges said the nzherald.co.nz site demonstrated the ability of online journalism to take on complex, emotive stories in a manner that adds greater depth than TV, radio or newspaper coverage ever could.

"Their interactive feature displaying messages of condolence for Christchurch earthquake victims was classy and tasteful. Extensive use of multimedia across the site suggests an online operation which its journalists are excited by - rather than simply reflecting the newspaper online."

Newspaper of the year

Judges of the Canon Media Awards praised the New Zealand Herald's comprehensive, in-depth coverage of international, national and local stories.

They particularly rated its coverage of the Pike River disaster, which included an exclusive interview with one of the survivors.

The winning entry also included the first interview with Rochelle Crewe, 40 years after her parents were murdered, and coverage of the September Christchurch earthquake and the MPs' spending scandal.

Weekly of the Year

The Weekend Herald's winning weekly newspaper entry included revelations that pressure was building on Supreme Court judge Bill Wilson to resign, that police were investigating a Super City voting scandal and details of the discovery of the body of Carmen Thomas in the Waitakere Ranges.

Judges said the paper "had quality and quantity to burn and headed a clutch of excellent weeklies".

"Serious and authoritative, yet reader-friendly - a paper with no apparent weaknesses, from its clean, attractive design to its sharp, agenda-setting journalism," said one.

As well as the four overall awards, the Herald won eight other honours, including best investigation - awarded to business writer Karyn Scherer for her work on Natural Dairy, the Chinese bidder for the Crafar farms.

The judge said it was an important story, well told, with a great deal of research that culminated in a historic and beneficial decision which he believed would affect New Zealand's economy for decades.

Photography

Mark Mitchell was named photographer of the year for six outstanding news pictures.

Magazine

Our Weekend Herald Canvas magazine won best newspaper magazine. The judge described it as a good-looking, finely crafted production in total harmony with its audience.

"Warm, sassy, relevant and informative, it defiantly complements its host paper while also being an excellent stand-alone magazine".

Individual honours

Writer Phil Taylor won two awards for business and crime stories.

Chris Barton won the arts feature award, Richard Robinson the photo essay award, and Amelia Wade was top student journalist.

Another 17 Herald staff were Canon award finalists.

Fairfax digital head Sinead Boucher won the top individual honour, the Wolfson Fellowship to Cambridge University.

Reporter of the year was Phil Kitchin of the Dominion Post and the best feature writer was Tony Wall of the Sunday Star-Times

The best newsstand magazine was North & South. Its editor-at-large, Donna Chisholm, won four awards, including best magazine writer.