Awanui, New Zealand: From Run-Down Town to a Beauty Finalist
Awanui’s Transformation Tale
Located in the Far North of New Zealand, the tiny town of Awanui is a shining example of resilience and community spirit. Previously considered run-down, Awanui is now a finalist in the quest for the title of ‘Most Beautiful Tiny Town in New Zealand.’ A significant part of this transformation can be traced back to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic when the government began seeking ‘shovel ready’ projects aimed at stimulating the economy and creating jobs.
With the support of Far North District councillor Felicity Foy, the communities of Awanui, Kaitāia, and Ahipara presented their improvement plans under the banner of the Te Hiku Open Spaces Revitalisation Project. The ambitious project, totaling a bid of 28 million, was granted 7 million from the government’s Covid-19 Response and Recovery Fund. This funding necessitated a reduction in plans, leading to the removal of a proposed network of walkways and cycle trails linking the towns.
Beautification and its Impact
Despite the scaling back, Awanui’s beautification has had a profound impact. The town’s improvements focused on a small, highly visible area at a busy junction. The most popular element of the revitalisation was the introduction of a new playground, which significantly boosted local business turnover.
Other enhancements included the installation of carved cultural gateways at town entrances, a new car park, a night-lit palisade fence, a boardwalk, murals, historic photo displays, three bus shelters, and a kids pump track for bikes and scooters. These improvements have not just beautified the town, but also improved its functionality and attractiveness to both residents and visitors.
Boosting Local Economy
The transformation of Awanui has positively impacted local businesses. For instance, the Bakerman Café reported a significant increase in business, attributing this growth to the new car park. Similarly, other establishments like the Awanui Hotel and the Awanui Kauri Kingdom have also reaped the benefits of the town’s revitalisation.
Community Involvement and Pride
In a display of community spirit and empowerment, the project made extensive use of local artists and suppliers. Remarkably, 70 percent of the contracting work was carried out by Māori businesses, reflecting the inclusive nature of the project. The transformation has instilled a sense of pride in Awanui’s residents, who appreciate the acknowledgment of their ancestors’ hard work in settling by the Awanui River.
Awanui: A Beautiful Destination
In a rather compelling narrative, Awanui has transformed from a rundown town to a beautiful destination. This transformation is a testament to the combined efforts of the local community and the government’s funding. With its revitalisation, Awanui has not only boosted its local economy but also instilled a strong sense of pride among its residents. As a result, Awanui is now a finalist for the title of ‘Most Beautiful Tiny Town in New Zealand,’ a well-earned recognition for a town that has so brilliantly risen from the ashes.
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