A formerly derelict building in central Whanganui has been named the supreme winner at the inaugural Whanganui Regional Heritage Awards.
A sell-out crowd of 200 celebrated the opening of Whanganui Heritage Month on Thursday night at the awards presentation ceremony.
There were 53 entries from throughout Ruapehu, Rangitīkei and Whanganui across eight categories, as well as four major awards.
The old Ridgway Chambers on the corner of Ridgway St and Drews Ave, now home to Katie Brown's showroom Brown & Co, was the supreme award winner after its dramatic restoration over the past 18 months.
Building owner Hadleigh Reid said he didn't expect to win the big one with so many other worthy projects in the region.
"I was a bit surprised, but totally stoked.
"As much as the award was presented to me, it was a real team effort - from Shane Stone Builders to [architect] Elinor McDouall and BNZ for the funding."
Reid, who bought the building in mid-2018, said he had no interest in the project when it first came to mind. After attending a public meeting about earthquake strengthening and funding for heritage buildings, Reid began to appreciate the historic buildings.
"I went along to the auction and no one else wanted to bid on them. I was the only bidder and that started the process.
"It was rotten inside and ended up being quite a decent job. Totally stoked with how it came out. I knew it was going to be good, but it was way better than I imagined."
Reid said having Katie Brown in the building is the cherry on top.
"Her pieces just finish it all off. I've always admired her art work. She approached me and asked to go in there and I was just really, really pleased."
Awards organiser Helen Craig said it was a fantastic night at the Heritage House.
"It was absolutely incredible.
"It was absolute fun. Everyone enjoyed sharing the stories of heritage, seeing the amazing photos and announcing the various category winners, it was really exciting."
Ross Mitchell-Anyon won a Heritage Hero award for his contributions to heritage in the region, after buying numerous heritage buildings over the years to save them from being demolished.
"He's a very well known potter and a wonderful heritage advocate in Whanganui. It was a standing ovation for him and really moving for him to be there," Craig said.
The other major award winners were Bernice Frost and Anthea Hatfield, who won the Awards Plaque for the Raetihi Arts Trust Gallery as well as the Rangitikei & Rural category award for their work on the old BNZ building in Raetihi.
Whanganui District Council won the Judges' Special Award in the final of the major awards in recognition of four council-owned buildings recently strengthened.
The eight category winners include:
Domestic - Saved and Restored: Rupert Bird & Gail Lourie for Westoe in Rangitīkei.
Public Realm - Saved and Restored: Mainstreet Whanganui, Heritage Town.
Heritage Tourism joint winners: Waimarie Operating Trust & Whanganui Riverboat Restoration and Navigation Trust, Paddle Steamer Waimarie and Riverboat Museum; and Bushy Park Tarapuruhi Trust, Bushy Park Tarapuruhi Homestead and Stables.
Outstanding Contribution to Heritage joint winners: Karen Wrigglesworth "Take Me With You!: A Self-Drive Guide to Whanganui's Engineering Heritage"; and Diane Harries "Whanganui Heritage Activity & Colouring Book".
Future Heritage joint winners: Elinor McDouall, Iona Tiny House; and Whanganui Collegiate School – Arrivals Building.
Seismic: McMillan & Lockwood Westmere Presbyterian Memorial Church.
Māori Realm: Pakaitore Historic Reserve Board, Whanganui Māori War Memorial.
Rangitikei & Rural: Bernice Frost & Anthea Hatfield, Old BNZ, Raetihi.