Horowhenua parks shine on the world stage

Published on March 08, 2023

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Horowhenua is only one behind Australia when it comes to Green Flag Awards.

An international accreditation given to publicly accessible parks and open spaces, the Green Flag Award® recognises and rewards parks and green spaces which provide high quality and innovative recreational experiences for our communities. Parks are awarded based on a criteria marked by experienced Green Flag Award® judges, with the award setting a benchmark standard for recreational outdoor spaces worldwide.

Horowhenua has five parks awarded a Green Flag, only one less than the whole of Australia.

In total this year, only 24 parks in Aotearoa have made the grade to be awarded a Green Flag. Horowhenua Council is second only to Auckland Council, which has seven green spaces recognised.

The five Horowhenua parks that have been awarded this year’s Green Flag Awards are:

  • Thompson House Park
  • Holben Reserve
  • Driscoll Reserve
  • Te Maire Park
  • Te Awahou Riverside Cultural Park

Mayor Bernie Wanden says, “We are dedicated to providing high quality green spaces for our community, and we are immensely proud of our parks - and the incredible work that goes on behind the scenes to create and maintain them. These special spaces invite our community to connect with the land, themselves, and others in beautiful settings we should all be proud of.”

To be considered for a Green Flag Award, Council had to demonstrate that the space was welcoming, healthy, safe and secure, and that it was well maintained and clean. Judging criteria also looked at environmental management, biodiversity, landscape and heritage, community involvement, marketing and communication and management.

The prestigious award is maintained by a rigorous annual reawarding application process.

Our first Green Flag was awarded for Thompson House Park in the 2018/2019 round and Manakau’s Driscoll Reserve received one in 2019. Foxton Beach’s Holben/Te Wharangi Reserve became the third Horowhenua park to win the award in 2020, and in 2021 Te Maire Park in Shannon and Foxton's Te Awahou Riverside Cultural Park was added to the list. Each green space has been reawarded Green Flags annually since they first received the award.

Recreational Services are contracted through Council to maintain our parks. Operations Manager Evan Hicks says he is not surprised that the district boasts so many Green Flags.

“Horowhenua is home to many beautiful places which contribute to our community’s well-being. Our team works hard to keep them up to a world class standard. Whether you use the spaces for exercise, reflection or to meet up with a friend, there is no denying how important they are in enhancing our physical and mental health. It is especially fitting to announce the renewal of our Green Flag awards this week as we observe Parks week.”

Recognised across Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand, Parks Week 2023 runs from Saturday 4 March to Sunday March 12 and celebrates how spending time in our parks and open spaces positively influences our wellbeing.

Recreation Aotearoa, the organisation responsible for managing and judging the New Zealand Green Flag Award®, were thrilled to see many parks achieve Green Flag status another year in a row.

Recreation Aotearoa Parks, Play, and Open Spaces Manager, Garrett Blair, said: “Parks and open spaces are vital to our communities, they are havens for relaxation, connection, education, and escape. Aotearoa has an incredible network of parks and it’s fantastic to see our list of Green Flag Award® winners grow and be acknowledged internationally.”

“The Green Flag Award® is a significant way for us to recognise the value of these parks, as well as those people who work hard every day to create high quality outdoor experiences and places for our growing communities.”  

To learn more about the Green Flag Award programme, you can visit their website: http://www.greenflagaward.org