The win was announced at a gala dinner in Wellington on Monday night.
Debbie Duncan, PNCC General Manager – Community, said the award was fantastic recognition for a long-running community event that was a great source of community pride and a distinctive component of the city’s identity.
Deputy Mayor Tangi Utikere, who also holds Council's multicultural portfolio, is delighted with the city's win. "Our annual Festival of Cultures is seen as an iconic event for the city, which is now firmly on our annual calendar. The Excellence Award is an acknowledgment of the strong and successful partnership we have with key stakeholders, especially the Manawatū Multicultural Council. The fact that this award follows our LGNZ Supreme Excellence win last year is heartening for the Council and community at large."
The Festival of Cultures is an annual headline event that showcases diversity in the community and encourages both celebration and connection through music, film, performance, cultural dress, craft, and food. The week-long programme of cultural activities is run in collaboration with more than 60 community groups. It attracts more than 25,000 people, including ambassadors and dignitaries from ethnic communities.
“The festival is community-driven, with the Manawatū Multicultural Council working alongside us as our major partner in its delivery,” says Mrs Duncan. “It’s a significant event that meets the social wellbeing needs of our community through social connectedness and community cohesion.”
The festival has been running since its inception in 1993. The Ethnic Council of Manawatū (now known as the Manawatū Multicultural Council) first approached Council in the early 1990s to run a festival that celebrates Palmerston North's cultural diversity on Race Relations Day.
“This year’s event was particularly pertinent as the opening event, the Lantern Festival, started the day after the tragic event in Christchurch,” says Mrs Duncan. “More so than ever, people wanted to stand together, show support, respect and aroha for each other, particularly our large local Muslim community.”
LGNZ President Dave Cull says: “Our judges commended all the finalists in the awards and said there were more high quality entries than ever before.
“Overall, the judges felt the strongest entries demonstrated strong leadership and proven results over long periods of time, and particularly noted those with a strong strategic vision and a focus on delivery. The winners are exceptional projects which are having a profound effect on the wellbeing of their communities.”