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Whakatāne Crowned 2023 Most Beautiful Large Town

Whakatāne residents have a reason to celebrate.


Whakatāne was crowned Most Beautiful Large Town at the 2023 Keep New Zealand Beautiful Awards last night.


The finalists for the Most Beautiful Large Town Award were Whakatāne and Taupō. Both towns had been finalists at the Beautiful Awards back in 2021, which saw Taupō take out the title. Whakatāne had taken out the 2021 Supreme Towns & Cities Award.


The judges of the Most Beautiful Large Town Award acknowledged the dedication and passion of the Whakatāne people. They also praised the district's commitment to Iwi engagement and community-led projects.


The judges also noted they were highly impressed by the extensive environmental initiatives underway in Whakatāne. These included a new tree strategy with the goal of increasing canopy cover by 20 percent over the next two decades, the establishment of a wetland "sponge park" to aid local streams in recovering from weed infestations and a comprehensive plan to revitalize nearby wetlands, and restore the health of the Awatapu lagoon.


Whakatāne Mayor Dr Victor Luca said the award is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our communities and what we can achieve when we come together to protect and enhance our surroundings.


“Not only are we blessed to have a head start when it comes to our little slice of paradise and the natural environment, but the award reflects the commitment to sustainability and preserving the district’s taonga and biodiversity which makes Whakatāne one of the most beautiful towns in the mōtū,"


“It really is a team effort to keep the Whakatāne District beautiful and we’re actively reducing our waste, caring for our waterways, getting out and about on our bikes, and into our gardens,"


“Whakatāne is now a shining example of how commitment to preserving natural beauty can create a lasting impact and we’re proud to be beautiful, inside and out,” Mayor Luca said.



Public Interest Journalism funded through New Zealand On Air.

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