Revitalisation of the inner city and the library and health hub are among three local projects up for awards in the Local Government New Zealand Excellence Awards.

Rotorua Lakes Council has been named a finalist in three categories: Best Practice Contribution to Local Economic Development, Best Practice in Governance, Leadership and Strategy, and Delivery and Asset Management.

The awards relate to the council's economic development strategy to breathe new life into the inner city, its Planning for the Rotorua Way project and its Te Aka Mauri Library and Children's Health Hub.

Now in its fifth year, the awards recognise and celebrate the key leadership role local government plays in communities around the country.

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Judges praised the revitalisation project as "the culmination of a clearly thought out long-term strategy for central business district redevelopment which has given confidence to and drawn support from, the private sector".

Judges commended the Te Aka Mauri Library and Children's Health Hub's successful co-locating of the city's library service with the District Health Board's local health hub.

"This is a good example of strong use of community infrastructure to improve well-being within the district".

The Planning for the Rotorua Way entry outlines the integrated strategic framework the council developed and is using to guide actions around the vision for the future of the city.

Judges were impressed by the continued delivery of the council's cohesive strategy, noting: "Their level of ongoing commitment and engagement, particularly with Te Arawa and other iwi, and its verifiable measures of success showed this council is well on its way through the journey to a positive long-term future."

LGNZ president Dave Cull said being named as a finalist was a significant achievement and reflected strong leadership and the innovative work being delivered by councils across the country.

"The finalists include some exceptional projects that are having a profound impact on communities. The Excellence Awards finalists all demonstrate innovation, excellence in communication and consultation to involve communities in the decisions and planning which frame their future.

"Overall the judges felt that the strongest entries demonstrated a strong strategic focus, clear outcomes, measured results, cost-benefit analysis and engagement with external organisations – particularly a collaborative approach with stakeholders, and meaningful engagement with iwi and Māori."

This year saw the highest number of entries in the awards' history.

Winners will be announced at the LGNZ conference dinner in Christchurch on July 16.

Finalist categories
- Excellence Award for Best Practice Contribution to Local Economic Development: Economic development strategy to breathe new life into the inner city
- Excellence Award for Best Practice in Governance, Leadership and Strategy: Planning for the Rotorua Way project
- Excellence Award for Delivery and Asset Management: Te Aka Mauri Library and Children's Health Hub.