The Rotorua Lakes Council has taken out a major award at last night's Local Government New Zealand awards ceremony.

The council has won the Martin Jenkins Judges Choice Award for Outstanding Value and Service Delivery for its work on the controversial Te Tatau o Te Arawa Board partnership.

The awards were held in Dunedin during the annual Local Government New Zealand conference.

Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick said in a Facebook post it was a "momentous night for Rotorua".


"A prestigious recognition from the sector to be recognised for the Te Arawa partnership model.

"We are the richest community as we walk proudly together shaping our great place and cultural legacy. This is bigger than any individual. Tatou Tatou," she said.

The council was represented at the awards by Mrs Chadwick, deputy mayor Dave Donaldson, councillors Janet Wepa and Karen Hunt, Te Tatau board chairman Te Taru White and council chief executive Geoff Williams.

The partnership caused a storm of controversy during its formation with opponents saying it was un-democratic, gave un-elected members a say on council decisions and was a waste of money.

According to a press release from Local Government New Zealand the judges choice award was selected from all award finalists.

"The award recognises the increased value, benefit or improvements to the overall well-being of the people within their town, city, district or region, in this case delivered through outstanding community engagement.

"Following discussions on how the relationship between the council and Te Arawa might be strengthened both parties worked together to develop an innovative, strategic and enduring partnership.

"The council wanted to develop a new partnership model with Te Arawa, support community leadership, work innovatively, and reshape the council to be more effective and responsive.

"Te Arawa had also called for a new partnership to ensure recognition its significance as tangata whenua and to identify and leverage opportunities to work together for the betterment of the Rotorua district."

The partnership was hailed by judges as representing "a step change in council/iwi relationships which will influence the manner in which relationships develop in other parts of New Zealand".

Local Government New Zealand president Lawrence Yule said the partnership showed an innovative approach to community consultation and engagement.

"This was an outstanding example of building trust in a genuinely collaborative way and working together to build greater links and involvement of Maori in local government.

"This is an excellent model that could be rolled out in many parts of New Zealand," Mr Yule said.

Judges for the awards were former Wellington mayor Kerry Prendergast, Earthquake Commission chairman Sir Maarten Wevers and The New Zealand Initiative's executive director Dr Oliver Hartwich.