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The Kumara Awards Are Back!

Celebrating Fabulous Placemaking across Aotearoa: Placemaking Aotearoa Announces the 2024 Kūmara Awards

[Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, 7 February 2024] – Placemaking Aotearoa, a national collective that uplifts local placemakers, is thrilled to unveil the 2024 Kūmara Awards, a celebration of excellence in placemaking.

The Kūmara Awards is on a mission to celebrate fabulous placemaking projects happening across Aotearoa, so that anyone can experience a better connection to place, learn more about community and get inspired to make their own placemaking projects.

Nominated by people from all walks of life, the Kūmara Awards showcase and encourage placemaking initiatives and remind us that both big and small changes have the potential to uplift a place and the people in it. Big or small, permanent or temporary, many kinds of placemaking projects can win a Kūmara Award!

Currently offered in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, Te Whanganui a Tara Wellington and Ōtautahi Christchurch - the Kūmara Awards recognise projects that have been instrumental in transforming public spaces, fostering community connections, and contributing to the overall vibrancy and sustainability of our cities. This is what fabulous placemaking - the art and science of creating vibrant and inclusive public spaces - can do! Organisers are keen to hear about initiatives that have made a difference to the experience of public spaces across all three locations.

The Kūmara Awards, named after the resilient and versatile kūmara, symbolise the strength, adaptability, and interconnectedness that characterise outstanding placemaking efforts. The Awards also honour the whakatauki ‘Kāora te kumara e kōrero ana mo tōna ake reka’ (the kūmara does not talk about its own sweetness), by not allowing those involved in an initiative to nominate themselves. Rather, we encourage others to nominate the projects that have made a difference to them, the communities and the places the projects are part of.

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"The Kūmara Awards are a platform to celebrate the many fabulous placemaking initiatives happening in communities of all kinds," says Denise Bijoux, Founding Member at Placemaking Aotearoa and Managing Director of Catalyse Network. "These awards acknowledge the energy and talent that are part of innovative approaches that enhance the quality of life for residents and visitors alike. And, most of all, they showcase the results of these efforts and how they are always more than the sum of their parts - we truly are better together when we work to enhance and share what we have."

The Kūmara Awards feature five categories:

1. Mā te haukāinga hei tūāpapa ki te ao tūroa / It Takes a Village - is all about collaboration

2. Ahakoa he iti, ko tōna painga ka puawaitia / From Little Things Big Things Grow - small changes can make an impact

3. Kei tua atu i te kaupapa / Beyond the brief - physical spaces that are more than what is expected or required

4. Ngā akoranga i muri, hei tūāpapa ki ngā mahi ki mua / Looking Back to Move Forward - highlighting experiences of culture in our places

5. Tiakina te whenua, ka manaakitia te tangata / Caring For the Land, Caring For the People - nature is the focus here

Nominations are open now! Winners will be selected by an esteemed panel of judges with expertise in urban planning, community development, and design and Awards presented on the same date in all three centres in April 2024.

For more information on the Kūmara Awards, including categories, eligibility, and the nomination process, please visit:

About placemaking

Placemaking is a hands-on approach where people work together to make places in which they live, work and play better, not only for themselves but for others and the place itself too. Placemaking is a process that aims to result in quality public spaces (safe, functional, connected, welcoming, accessible, comfortable, clean, sociable, engaging and fun with a mix of uses and social opportunities) that function as the heart of communities. There are 3 specialised kinds of placemaking: strategic, creative and tactical.

Strategic placemaking is targeted to a particular goal in addition to creation of quality places. It may aim to develop places that are attractive to talented workers and businesses to catalyse substantial job creation and income growth, for example.. This adaptation of placemaking especially targets knowledge workers who, because of their skills, can choose to live anywhere and who tend to pick quality places offering certain amenities.

Creative placemaking animates public and private spaces, rejuvenates structures and streetscapes, improves local business viability and public safety, and brings diverse people together to celebrate, inspire, and be inspired through the addition of artistic and cultural activities. Creative placemaking might focus on museums, galleries and music venues, housing for artists and/or cultural activities such as murals and installations, outdoor concerts, movies in the park, play streets, little libraries, pianos in public spaces, wayfinding, footpath games and pop-up displays, events and activities.

Tactical placemaking is about trialling large scale improvements by starting small first. By testing new concepts before making substantial political and financial commitments, proof of concept can be more assured and different ways of achieving outcomes can be explored. Sometimes sanctioned, sometimes not, guerilla placemaking might include actions such as seed bombing, temporary seating, or basketball hoops on street lamp posts. Official tactical placemaking might include temporary street closures, small scale parks and playgrounds, chalk painted cycle lanes or pataka kai.

About Placemaking Aotearoa

Placemaking Aotearoa is a national network of placemakers across Aotearoa. Dedicated to uplifting placemaking by initiating and fostering connection, advice and advocacy, the collective is run by a small group of volunteers who have been active in championing and driving placemaking together since 2020. Committed to developing and sharing better placemaking tools and supporting placemakers across Aotearoa, and the leaders they work with, Placemaking Aotearoa strives to mobilise placemaking that creates spaces which enrich the lives of residents and contribute to the overall well-being of publicly accessible spaces everywhere.

© Scoop Media

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