Rotorua Lakes Council staff are "absolutely thrilled" after jointly taking out top honours at the Local Government New Zealand Excellence Awards.

The council won the Best Practice in Service Delivery and Asset Management Award for Te Aka Mauri while the inner city revitalisation won Best Practice Contribution to Local Economic Development.

The Rotorua and Palmerston North councils shared the Judges' Choice Award for performance excellence and community outcomes.

The award recognises overall excellence across the council's entry portfolio.

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The council was also a finalist in the Best Practice in Governance, Leadership and Strategy category.

Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick holds up the council's award. Photo/Supplied
Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick holds up the council's award. Photo/Supplied

Councillor Karen Hunt, the council's inner-city revitalisation lead, did not attend the awards ceremony but said the council was "absolutely thrilled" with the result.

"It just shows once again we are leading the country and doing some innovative, creative changes and people are noticing.

"The people who live here mostly love what we are doing,"she said.

"People want to call the city home and it's a city people are proud to claim as their own ... These things point to the fact we are on the right track."

She said the council was working to leave the city in "better hands and better shape" than they found it in but not everyone could be pleased.

"Those who don't agree are very much the minority."

The Revitalisation of the Inner City project was praised by judges 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".

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Local Government New Zealand vice president Stuart Crosby with Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick. Photo/Supplied
Local Government New Zealand vice president Stuart Crosby with Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick. Photo/Supplied

The judges said the Te Aka Mauri Library and Children's Health Hub was "a good example of strong use of community infrastructure to improve wellbeing within the district".

Local Government New Zealand president Dave Cull said this was the first time the Judges' Choice award had been shared.

"The leadership shown by Rotorua Lakes Council and Palmerston North City Council is an example to others in the country of strong strategic thinking, excellent community engagement and well-designed execution."

Before the ceremony, members of the Rotorua District Residents and Ratepayers (RDRR) group sent a letter to Local Government New Zealand seeking an urgent review of Rotorua Lakes Council's applications for the awards.

Councillor Karen Hunt in front of Te Aka Mauri which won the Best Practice in Service Delivery and Asset Management Award. Photo/File
Councillor Karen Hunt in front of Te Aka Mauri which won the Best Practice in Service Delivery and Asset Management Award. Photo/File

After the awards RDRR secretary Dr Reynold Macpherson again criticised them, saying "ratepayers who have to live with these disasters, and pay for them, reject these fake awards".

When asked why they were fake, Macpherson said "they lack decent methodology".

A Local Government New Zealand spokesman previously said the excellence awards went through a "robust and rigorous process".

The winners
- Best Practice in Governance, Leadership and Strategy: Palmerston North's Framing the Big Picture programme.
- Best Practice in Service Delivery and Asset Management: Rotorua Lakes Council for Te Aka Mauri.
- Excellence Award for Community Engagement: Waipa District Council for its project Out of the Shadows – Bringing Waipa's Heritage to Life.
- Best Practice Contribution to Local Economic Development: Rotorua Lakes Council for its inner city revitalisation.
- Excellence Award for Environmental Impact: Wellington City Council's Our Natural Capital programme, to protect the city's native biodiversity.
- Excellence Award for Best Creative Place: Palmerston North's Public Art Programme.
- Judges' Choice Award: Rotorua Lakes Council and Palmerston North City Council.