2022 NZ Parks Award Winners

On Thursday 23 June Recreation Aotearoa celebrated the New Zealand parks, play, and open spaces industry at the annual NZ Parks Awards in Dunedin. Four awards were presented at the ceremony, including Active Park of the Year, Healthy Park of the Year, Playground of the Year, and Parks Person of the Year.

ACTIVE PARK OF THE YEAR 

TECT Park in the Bay Plenty was the 2022 winner of the Active Park of the Year. A joint venture between Western Bay of Plenty District Council and Tauranga City Council, TECT Park is an all-terrain park located between Tauranga and Rotorua. It boasts 1650 hectares of adventure and active recreation opportunity – from horse trails, mountain biking, high wire courses, and paintballing. Developed out of the desire to create a multipurpose, multi-functional recreation space for the surrounding communities, the park officially opened in 2010.

The park has become a hugely popular attraction, not to mention a multi-year Green Flag Award winner. It is constantly undergoing improvements and upgrades to meet user needs and experience.

Our judges were impressed with the overall application from the team at Western Bay of Plenty, successfully highlighting what an amazing facility TECT Park is. As an internationally recognised park, TECT Park is a unique, council and community led space, showing what can be achieved when all parties are on the same page.


HEALTHY PARK OF THE YEAR

Healthy Park of the Year went to Taupō District Council for the Great Lake Pathway. The Great Lake Pathway runs 10KM along the waterfront of one of Aotearoa’s greatest natural features, Lake Taupō. The pathway was designed to help locals better engage with their lake and get around town, as well as attract more tourists and visitors from around New Zealand and the world. 

Averaging on 20,000 users per month the pathway is fit for purpose for people on wheels and on foot. The pathway was a collaborative effort between council, the community, and iwi and hapū. One of the innovative features to the pathway is the regular 500m kowhaiwhai designs for the community to gauge the distance of their daily exercise on the path.

The Great Lake Pathway Project is a stellar example of iwi and local government working together in co-management. From the planning, consultation, design, and construction, you can see how meticulous the project team were in delivering this amazing asset for the Taupō community. A fantastic project and an even better outcome.  


PLAYGROUND OF THE YEAR

Upper Hutt City Council took away Playground of the Year with Maidstone Max Tō Tātou Papa Tākaro. The playground is a popular landmark in the Greater Wellington Region, designed to transport children to a unique fantasy land. Originally built in 2001 the playground, underwent a major restoration process in 2018. 

Council ran events and consultations at the playground to capture the views of the community. The process included fun activities for families and children, including votes on equipment, pictures drawn with the help of professional illustrators, and conversations around site wish lists and requests.

A stand-out feature of the playground is the overall design focus on inclusivity and accessibility, from specialist swings, ramp access to key playground features, to a pump track for learner scooter and bike riders. The park also shows great sustainability, through the incorporation of existing playground features and the use of recyclable and recycled materials - including Playtop’s Nike Grind surfacing, made from used sneakers and tyres.   

The overall process around this playground redevelopment needs to be commended. The project team went above and beyond to ensure that they catered to the needs of every type of park user. Playground redevelopment is never an easy task, but with careful and thoughtful consultation, design and construction, the Upper Hutt Maidstone Max is a playground that will stand the test of time and benefit users of all ages and ranges.


PARKS PERSON OF THE YEAR

The final award of the evening was Parks Person of the Year. This award recognises a person within parks and open spaces who demonstrates outstanding effort to forward public parks through good management, sustainability, and innovation. Rui Kohiti of Taupō District Council was this year’s recipient.

Rui has been described as genuine, practical, and the embodiment of environmental kaitiaki. He is fluent in Te Reo Māori and is a strong practitioner of tikanga Māori. He has a passion and background in sports turf management and has shown an impressive ability to apply that knowledge across the wider parks industry. His record for creating memorable and inspiring interactions with the environment, colleagues, and the local community made him an excellent candidate for the award.     


Recreation Aotearoa Parks, Play & Open Spaces Programme Manager, Garrett Blair, said, “these awards are a valuable way for us and for Aotearoa to celebrate and appreciate the places and the people that allow us to easily connect with our environment, to embrace play and active recreation, and to strengthen or communities.”

“Our parks and open spaces are one of the things that make Aotearoa unique, and it is important that we continue to recognise this. Our 2022 winners are shining beacons in the industry, nationally and internationally. We are immensely proud to see the industry continue to thrive.” 

The NZ Parks Awards were held as part of the 2022 Green Pavlova Conference.

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