It's a proud week for Whanganui and her councillors, sworn in to govern the city named New Zealand's most beautiful.

"It means a recognition of what we already know here, that Whanganui is the most beautiful city in New Zealand," councillor Hadleigh Reid said.

Councillor Helen Craig is entering her third term on council and is passionate about preserving, improving and promoting the arts and heritage of the city.

"For Whanganui people it's been really obvious," she said. "It's a pride thing. It's a self belief, so winning this award ... Facebook has gone absolutely nuts.


"It's really showing the pride, how people want to celebrate and believe 'hey we won this national award isn't that fantastic', so it's a real boost to people."

Craig said with nearby Feilding winning the most Beautiful Town Award 16 times over the years, it had really raised the awards profile with her.

"It was a bit of competition actually, I wanted those billboards outside our town to say that we had the most beautiful town."

The accolades didn't stop there with the Keep New Zealand Beautiful Awards naming Whanganui's Ridgway St as the country's best.

"I personally entered the street because I just thought 'why not?' and I've always loved the street partly because of the blossom trees," Craig said.

"It's just one of those special little places. It's got a whole row of these gorgeous heritage buildings, it's an entire streetscape of the same era, the facades are all intact.

"And you've got a beautiful park here and it's, over summer, been an amazing pop-up park."

Craig is already thinking about which street to enter next year.


"Victoria Avenue is absolutely beautiful and we are putting in all these fairy lights in the trees, along with Mainstreet and the town centre regeneration committee. So I think that is a pretty good one to give that one a go."

The awards grew out of the iconic Be A Tidy Kiwi and Do the Right Thing anti-litter campaigns of the 1970s. And while they are essentially a beauty contest, it's not just skin deep.

"It's actually getting right to the depth of what are you doing as a city, as a town, to make things better," Craig said.

"So for Whanganui, it was very much around a lot of environmental things that we are doing, and that was really commented on by the judges."

Those projects include the Sustainable Whanganui Trust who put resources and products back into the community, and the Resource Recovery Centre, a council and iwi-led organisation.

"We're proud of it, proud of the place and proud of the city, and obviously the efforts that the people in the community of Whanganui are doing to encourage and recycle and resource product from the region, so it's really good," Resource Recovery Centre manager Dale Cobb said.


Made with funding from