In a double-whammy for Raglan, Plastic Bag Free Whaingaroa also walked away with an award, taking out the Klean Kanteen Community Environmental Initiative Award.
The Gala Dinner was held on Friday night (26 October) at the Maritime Museum in Auckland. Raglan Ward Councillor Lisa Thomson was present to accept the Most Beautiful Small Town Award on behalf of the community.
“Our community groups have worked tirelessly to enhance the native environment and to influence generations to make conscious decisions to become a sustainable town for many years. It’s wonderful to share this award with everyone in Raglan as it truly is a whole town effort to keep Raglan beautiful.”
In addition to winning the Most Beautiful Small Town Award, Raglan took out the Supreme Award, in what the judges described as an unprecedented commitment and effort regarding their community beautification programme. Raglan will receive a customised community mural, designed and painted by artist Flox (Hayley King).
The Most Beautiful Small Town Award recognises and celebrates beautiful small towns in New Zealand. It acknowledges positive actions that have been taken by communities to protect and enhance their local environment.
It was a tough East vs. West competition, with two Waikato towns, Raglan and Waihi in contention for the title. Waihi’s entry highlighted their community heritage and town rejuvenation projects, and Raglan focused on sustainability with a key focus on refuse, reuse, reduce, and recycle.
The judges visited each town in late September. They were taken to local businesses Xtreme Zero Waste and Plastic Bag Free Whaingaroa to see the initiatives in action.
Xtreme Zero Waste diverts 75% of the collected waste from landfill, collects food waste from Raglan and provides recycling facilities for events like Soundsplash. They also undertake numerous educational programmes with schools across Waikato region to spread the message to be conscious with decisions around plastic and recyclables.
Plastic Bag Free Whaingaroa has been actively addressing the global issue of plastic pollution by taking initiative in their local area. They have been able to get an overwhelming 93% of community members on board in supporting a Plastic Bag Free community. This has involved getting 1,500 reusable bags out to the locals, implementing plastic bag free education modules in local schools and creating a Plastic Bag Free business accreditation programme which has seen 95% of local businesses Plastic Bag Free!
Keep New Zealand Beautiful Towns and Cities Awards were judged on initiatives across four key areas; litter prevention/waste minimisation, community beautification projects, recycling projects and sustainable tourism.