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PM: Built Environment Awards Speech

Wednesday 7 December 2005

Rt Hon Helen Clark
Prime Minister

Address at Year of the Built Environment Awards

Wednesday 7 December 2005

We are here tonight to celebrate the positive impact which a quality built environment has on the well-being of our citizens, towns, cities, and the country as a whole.

As New Zealanders we are immensely proud of our internationally famous natural environment. But, we should also recognise the unique strengths and positive qualities of our built environment. The Year of the Built Environment and awards like these give us the opportunity to focus on these qualities.

The Institute of Architects visited me early on in my first term as Prime Minister and Minister of Arts, Culture, and Heritage, with a vision for celebrating and improving our built environment. I encouraged the Hon Marian Hobbs and the Ministry for the Environment to pursue ways of doing that, and a number of initiatives have been taken.

I speak as one who is fascinated by the built environment and our architectural heritage – whether it be the small cottages of Ponsonby and Thorndon, the new city created for Brazil’s capital, Kyoto’s temples, or Stockholm’s mediaeval centre. All are critical to understanding our past.

The built environment describes not only built structures, but also the places and networks in which we interact, live, and play. The Year of the Built Environment 2005 celebrates the diversity of our culture, the vibrancy of our towns and cities, and the distinctive New Zealand styles of our built environment.

The celebration of the Year has been a wonderful success, and I congratulate all those who have worked hard to make it so. It has involved collaboration between central government, and the New Zealand Institute of Architects, and a consortium of local government, industry, research organisations, and professional institutes. Prince Charles helped give our events profile by launching the New Zealand Urban Design Protocol during his visit in March. The quality of the built environment is a subject dear to his heart.

The end of the year will not mean the end of the focus. It is just the beginning. Our government will continue to strongly support the built environment agenda through policies and programmes, such as the Urban Design Protocol, the Sustainable Cities Programme, the New Zealand Housing Strategy, and the National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy.

Already 100 organisations have signed up to the Urban Design Protocol. The Protocol recognises that urban design has a significant influence on people and how they live their lives. It recognises that towns and cities are complex systems which require integrated management across sectors. It aims to increase the awareness of quality urban design, demonstrate its value, and encourage partnership between central and local government, the private sector, and professionals. The Protocol also provides a national resource of tools and actions to be used in achieving quality urban design.

I thank everyone here this evening for the efforts and commitment you are making to improve New Zealand’s built environment.

Tonight, we celebrate some of the outstanding examples of projects from across the spectrum of the built environment – from street malls to foreshore developments, airports, wineries, a house in a paddock, and an eco-neighbourhood; from public buildings to private homes, commercial buildings, to public spaces and more.

The Awards recognise those buildings, landscapes, and projects which stand at the pinnacle of construction and design across New Zealand.

I congratulate all tonight’s finalists and thank them for their contribution to enhancing the quality of New Zealand’s built environment.


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