1 Mar 2021

New Zealand Community of the Year - Ngā Pou Whirinaki o Te Tau
New Zealand Community of the Year - Ngā Pou Whirinaki o Te Tau

The Mitre 10 Community of the Year Award - Ngā Pou Whirinaki o te Tau recognises a rōpū - group of people that together have made an outstanding difference to their community this year. They foster a strong sense of Kotahitanga - community spirit and their achievements enhance the social, economic, cultural or environmental prosperity of their rohe - region making it stronger and more vibrant.

Meet the 3 finalists.

Christchurch Mosque Victims Group


The Christchurch mosque shootings on 15 March 2019 were the deadliest in modern New Zealand history, and described by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as “one of New Zealand’s darkest days.” However, despite the unprecedented violence of the attack, and the anti-Muslim rhetoric that surrounded it, the victims have been praised around Aotearoa and the world for their overwhelming strength, grace and humanity in the aftermath. Many of the victims were religious and community leaders who led public prayer in the days and weeks following the attacks, and publicly forgave the killer. During the killer’s trial and sentencing in August 2020, many victims spoke eloquently as they relived the trauma of the day, presenting their victim impact statements to the court and to the terrorist himself with courage, dignity and searing honesty, modelling a range of healthy responses to a psychologically challenging situation. All New Zealanders have been grateful for the victims’ calm denunciation of xenophobia as well as their steadfast commitment to a peaceful existence, and hope only that the sentencing and release of the Royal Commission’s Enquiry in December 2020 can provide some closure on this dark chapter in New Zealand’s history.

Te Puea Memorial Marae Indigenous Homeless Service Delivery Model


In 2016, Te Puea Memorial Marae in South Auckland’s Mangere opened its doors to homeless whānau across Tāmaki Makaurau. Since then, the marae’s Manaaki Tāngata e Rua (MTeR) transitional housing programme has offered whanau immediate support taking them out of the motels and or off the streets in the short term, through the delivery of a unique indigenous Māori homeless service delivery model that successfully blends critical elements of the law and lore. To date 501 Maori, Pacific, Ethnic and Pakeha people have been carefully moved into permanent state and or private homes, and recently the first whānau has moved through the programme from homelessness to homeownership, setting a new benchmark and aspirational goal for whanau and MTeR. MTeR aims to restore the whanau ora mana motuhake of all homeless whānau who come on to the marae. The MTeR model has been the subject of much government and NGO research to better understand why MTeR is so successful at supporting whānau Māori who are homeless using the tikanga of the Marae and the teachings and whakapapa of Princess Te Puea Herangi. The MTeR co-location service delivery model has since been moved to other significant Maori service providers across Auckland which is being supported by a unique engagement training and development program for MSD staff. MTeR has released two formal research publications, a Te Reo Maori digital learning resource, a photo exhibition and song and was recently a 2020 finalist for the Crown Maori Partnerships Awards. The journey has been humbling and far-reaching for the 11 whanau who do the mahi, but what was most significant were the words of United Nations Special Rapporteur Lelani Farha in her 2020 report on Homelessness ‘….for housing first to be successful in the Maori context requires that the model be developed and administered by Maori as is for the example being undertaken at Te Puea Memorial Marae…’


Trees That Count


Trees That Count is on a mission to see millions more native trees planted in Aotearoa, to fight climate change, strengthen our threatened biodiversity and grow healthier communities. The programme was launched in 2016 by the Project Crimson Trust as a way to unite Kiwis against climate change through the simple act of planting a native tree. Since then, more than 32 million trees have been added to the national count. Trees That Count’s main focus now is in increasing generosity for native tree planting projects. Their market place enables individuals or businesses to fund or gift native trees which are then matched to deserving planting groups around the country: from iwi and community groups restoring local reserves and schools establishing native gardens through to farmers who are improving waterways and the health of their land by planting more trees. More than $4.5 million dollars has been raised to plant over 620,000 native trees, supporting 729 planting projects around Aotearoa – and this number grows by the day. Trees That Count also runs national awareness campaigns and funds on-the-ground ecological experts in each region who promote the unique value of our native flora.

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