Waipā wins PR award for long-term plan


Waipā District Council were awarded Supreme Winner for their entry ‘What’s next Waipā?’ at the 2022 annual PRINZ Awards gala dinner held in Auckland recently.

The ‘What’s next Waipā?’ campaign flipped a routine legislative consultative process on its head and embarked on 17 months of targeted, innovative community relations work, inspiring Waipā residents to share their needs and wants for their district and engage in the development of council’s 2021-2031 Long Term Plan. The campaign also won Gold in the Community Relations and Engagement category.

PRINZ Awards Chief Judges, Denise Mackay FPRINZ, APR and Andrew Pirie, FPRINZ said this was a creative two-way communication programme that resulted in record engagement for Waipā.

“When tasked with managing public consultation on a council’s long-term plan, many communications practitioners would be tempted to just ‘go through the motions’ with a conventional approach. The judges were impressed at the innovative yet highly disciplined way the Waipā District Council team sought to address a well-known national issue – getting the community engaged in local government planning.

“Supported by a strategy that put listening ahead of speaking and implemented through a range of inventive communications and engagement techniques – Councillor Speed Dating anyone? – implemented in a Covid-19 environment, the team delivered results not only for the council, but importantly, for the Waipā community.”

The judges were impressed by the depth of planning involved to reach hard-to-engage community segments, as well as the detailed focus on results – even down to measuring the numbers of ice creams and sausages the community consumed as indicators of engagement!

“The project easily exceeded the council’s expectations on engagement and participation. Perhaps the most significant outcome is how this work has become an exemplar for other councils across the motu to consider when it comes to enhancing community buy-in.”

Waipā District Council chief executive Garry Dyet says the awards showcase a council commitment to inviting the community to be involved early in complex and long-term discussions.

“We started our long-term plan journey in March 2020 with community BBQs to gather our community’s thoughts on their vision and strategic priorities for the district,” he says.

“Then in 2021, we held lots of community events, including coffee with the mayor, speed dating with the
councillors and drop-in sessions to truly connect with our community in ways that really resonated with our residents. It was a lot of effort, involving a lot of people across the organisation.”

“Having meaningful engagement with our community shapes the way Waipā moves forward and our communications and engagement team created the opportunities for many of those conversations. I’m very proud of this award, it is well deserved.”

The award recognises projects or programmes that improve or establish mutually beneficial relationships with communities in which the organisation operates.

The PRINZ Awards recognise excellence in the New Zealand’s public relations and communications industry, promoting continuous improvement, and celebrating best practice. This year’s awards attracted 86 entries.


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