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International award for three Hastings parks

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Fantastic new flags will be flying over three Hastings parks after an announcement yesterday [October 30] that Flaxmere Park, Havelock North Village Green and Cornwall Park have all been awarded the prestigious international Green Flag Award.

Just which parks would receive the highly sought-after awards came after a strenuous judging process. Twenty-nine parks across New Zealand made the grade.

The 27 criteria included horticultural standards, cleanliness, sustainability and accessibility. Winning parks had to be safe, well-managed, welcoming and have a strong community connection giving residents real opportunities to be involved in both the planning and management of the parks.

Judges from across New Zealand went over everything with a fine-tooth comb: management plans, community consultation programmes, communications plans and written applications, before carrying out a site visit of up to four hours.

"It is a fantastic outcome," says Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst. "I am very proud of our communities for their strong input into our parks, our staff who are so passionate about looking after our parks, and our councillors for recognising the value of parks to our communities and who put in the resources required to achieve this level of quality."

Havelock North Village Green underwent a major upgrade in 2017, and input from the community definitely had an impact, from fundraising to the moving and refurbishment of the historic cricket pavilion, and the choice of water play feature.

Cornwall Park, Hastings oldest and much-loved park, is in the midst of a once-in-a-generation refurbishment. Community input has been material to the design of the new playground to fit around the enormously popular stream, and improvements to the gardens and event space.

Flaxmere underwent a major upgrade 10 years ago, which vastly improved the atmosphere and popularity of the park. A strong desire of the community was that it be made more welcoming and family-friendly. A more recent ‘top-up’ upgrade had hands-on community input into the plantings and artwork.

For Flaxmere councillor and Hastings ambassador Henare O’Keefe, the award is recognition of just how far the suburb has come in the 10 years since the first Flaxmere Park management plan was put in place, with strong community involvement. "We have awesome strengths in Flaxmere and just look what we have achieved - this park is at the very heart of our community and just keeps getting better and better all the time."

Launched in 1997, the Green Flag Awards are managed in England by Keep Britain Tidy. The flags fly over 2000 sites across the UK, Republic of Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, Finland and the United Arab Emirates, as well as Australia and New Zealand. In New Zealand, the awards are managed by Recreation Aotearoa.

At the announcement of the awards, Recreation Aotearoa chief executive Andrew Leslie said: "To create livable cities, and sustainable, thriving communities we need to continue to invest in our parks and green spaces and truly value the contributions they make. Aotearoa has such a wealth of quality parks and being able to recognise that with international programmes like Green Flag is integral to recreational growth."

The award lasts for one year, with park management required to reapply showing how they have maintained and improved their processes and plans aimed at providing high quality recreational opportunities for their communities.

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