News | 17 February 2022
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Wellington wins most beautiful large city award

Wellington has been named the most beautiful large city in Aotearoa at the annual Keep New Zealand Beautiful Awards ceremony in the capital this evening.

WCC staff at awards l-r Cr Laurie Foon, Cr Teri O'Neill, Zealandia's Danielle Shanahan, Dep Mayor Sarah Free, Mayor Andy Foster, and Chair KNZB Alexandra Davids

The Keep New Zealand Beautiful Awards are New Zealand’s longest-running sustainability awards and provide a benchmark for environmental excellence. Run annually since 1972, the Awards inspire, recognise and acknowledge those individuals, schools, community groups, towns and cities working passionately to Keep New Zealand Beautiful.


Mayor Andy Foster says the award is a great honour for our city and recognises the work Wellington City Council and its communities have done to protect, restore and enhance the natural environment, build on a strong community spirit, and create a place other towns and cities aspire to, and people want to visit.


“Wellington is a city that is easy to live in. It’s compact, connected, and innovative with a lifestyle that’s making the world sit up and take notice. But the best thing about Wellington is Wellingtonians, who can be rightfully proud of their city and the work they are doing to make it an even better place to live right now, and for our children and grandchildren.


“There is no doubt Wellington is at the forefront in New Zealand when it comes to restoration and care of the natural environment. Over the last 30 years we’ve shown the way as we’ve transformed the city from being an environmental desert to an environmental leader.


“Our urban restoration journey is rightly world famous for its reintroduction of native birds and the return of the dawn chorus to Wellington. Once absent kākā and kererū are daily sights and sounds across our city. 


“Recently New Zealand’s smallest bird has been sighted on Te Ahūmairangi Hill in Wellington City and Makara Peak. Possibly this is the first time that titipounamu/rifleman have been present in the area for over 100 years.


“Predator Free Wellington is also world-leading. We are on a journey to become the first predator free city in the world – aiming for zero possums, rats and mustelids.


“This nomination also highlights the work being done by Wellington City Council with carbon emission initiatives, transport plans, and engaging with the community, and youth in particular.


“Te Atakura formalises our ambitious reduction targets and lays out a strategic blueprint for how Wellington City can approach climate issues over the next decade, and our commitment to ensuring Wellington City becomes a net zero carbon city by 2050.


“We continue to invest heavily in cycleways, with $226 million allocated over the next 10 years, and we have the country’s highest levels of active transport use, public transport use and electric vehicle ownership per person.


“These projects, initiatives, community support programmes and more, contribute to the city’s resilience and demonstrate the value of the environment in the capital, positive engagement with our communities and volunteers, and our innovative approach to sustainability and improving our economy through tourism and investment from business.


“We pay credit to, and acknowledge, Dunedin – our fellow finalist in this category. There are some remarkable similarities between the two. Both our cities are beautiful, enjoy stunning harbours, are ringed by bush covered hills, are full of character and history, and enjoy poetically outrageous weather!


“Town belts and world leading fenced eco sanctuaries are features of both cities and I note Wellington led the way with both of these initiatives. We are proud of the fact Zealandia inspired Dunedin’s Orokonu and look forward to future collaboration with our southern cousins,” adds Mayor Foster.


Most beautiful small town (1000-9999 residents) award winner was Kaitaia, most beautiful large town (10,000-29,999 residents) Taupō, and most beautiful small city (30,000-99,999 residents) Hastings. Whakatāne won the overall Supreme Award.