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Top Parks Named At National Awards Ceremony

Last night 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.

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.

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 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.

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. 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 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 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.”

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