News | 18 August 2021

Wellington welcomes beautiful city award nomination

“The nomination is well deserved,” said Wellington Mayor Andy Foster on learning the Capital had been nominated alongside Dunedin, for the most beautiful large city category at the annual Keep New Zealand Beautiful awards.

Two millionth tree planting with Mayor and crew

“These awards are specifically to recognise work Councils have done to protect and enhance local environments, and strong community spirit and an environment that other towns and cities would aspire to,” says Mayor Foster.

“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 nearly 30 years we’ve shown the way as we’ve transformed from environmental desert to environmental leader.

“Dunedin has a special place in my heart. 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, but when you consider the leadership, scale and success of nearly three decades of work to restore and enhance the environment, it is clear Wellington has to be the leader.”

Tītipounamu image credit Melissa Boardman
Tītipounamu at Zealandia image credit Melissa Boardman

Dunedin has its Town Belt – established in 1855, but that was 15 years after Wellington’s three times larger Town Belt – and over the last nearly 30 years we’ve progressively created our fabulous, much larger, Outer Green Belt

Dunedin’s Orakanui is a special fenced sanctuary, but it and other fenced sanctuaries followed and were inspired by Wellington’s pioneering, world-leading Zealandia.

It’s also Zealandia which has just undertaken New Zealand’s largest pest fish eradication project led by outstanding science and careful preparation. It’s Zealandia which has around 600 volunteers and 16,000 members which is an outstanding reflection of the community spirit the awards are all about.

“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 kaka and kereru are daily sights across our city,” adds the Mayor.

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

“Predator Free Wellington is absolutely world leading too. We are on a journey to become the first predator free city in the world – aiming for zero possums, rats and mustelids. The Miramar peninsula is close to becoming the first urban area in the world to eliminate rats – and possums and mustelids have already been eradicated.

“Over 3000 Miramar households have hosted traps in this project. Already 2,500 households have signed up to the next stage of our Predator Free journey as it moves across our City.

Citywide our community is absolutely meeting the award requirement to demonstrate community spirit in this mahi. Every suburb has a predator free group, with thousands of householders involved, 9,500 traps registered and 74,000 pests trapped so far. In thirty years, Wellington has gone from two community groups helping look after city reserves to around 140, and we’ve just planted our two millionth tree in our restoration work.

Cyclist on bike lane on Crawford Road in Kilbirnie

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

“In 2019 we adopted Te Atakura – First to Zero in response to 92% of Wellingtonians wanting this as a priority, and while emissions are dropping, we need to do more to meet our reduction numbers,” says Mayor Foster.

“The number of people on bikes has tripled in the last two decades, and continues to grow – in fact we have New Zealand’s highest levels of walking, cycling and public transport use combined.

“These projects 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.”

The last stage of judging will involve the Beautiful Awards judges visiting the finalist towns and cities from late August.

Up for most beautiful small town (1000-9999 residents) are Foxton and Kaitaia, most beautiful large town (10,000-29,999 residents) Taupō and Whakatāne, and most beautiful small city (30,000-99,999 residents) Whanganui and Hastings.

All four category winners will compete for the Supreme Award, which names the most beautiful town or city in the country at an awards ceremony in Auckland on Thursday 28 October.