Wairoa District Council has stepped up and been awarded an improved grade in a recent performance report.
CouncilMARK is an independent assessment programme that assesses how councils are performing and is designed to support individual councils to improve the service and value they provide.
WDC has been given a BB rating in the 2021 report. Its last was back in 2017 and the council, which serves 8367 people, received a CCC rating.
Councils receive an overall performance rating from the Independent Assessment Board (IAB), from C to AAA.
CouncilMARK IAB chair Toby Stevenson said Wairoa District Council should be proud of its reputation in the community.
"It's no mean feat getting an improved rating since the last report, because this is a rigorous process.
"Wairoa is a small rating base with limited income so they have to think carefully about what they can afford. "
Despite this, the chair said the council more often than not get their decision making right.
Wairoa Mayor Craig Little said the recent report confirmed the district punches above its weight.
He said it shows how hard WDC works to improve outcomes for ratepayers and meet the needs of the community.
"We are a very unique district, and our solutions are not always mainstream.
"This report recognises that we roll between traditional and modern approaches in a bid to get the best outcome possible."
Even with all the elected members holding day jobs and with a small staff count, Stevenson said they were able to provide closer touchpoints to a greater number of the community than a "typical council".
"Wairoa has a very active, engaged voting base and five out of the seven elected members, as well as the interim chief executive, are Māori."
Stevenson said this was important given 66 per cent of the population identified as Māori at the last census.
Wairoa has the highest Māori population of any district in New Zealand.
The report praised the council's bicultural governance model, methodical community engagement, strong understanding of the council and region's financial risks, and their strategic targeting of external funding to address infrastructure shortfalls.
The report also highlighted a range of challenges including sustaining that external funding to meet affordability challenges and speeding up incremental change in their information technology and human resources systems.