Last week, the Rotorua Lakefront Development project scooped up two more prestigious awards, this time down in Wellington at the NZILA Awards. We’re so proud to have been part of the team and to celebrate these accolades together. The awards were given in recognition of the exceptional landscape design that has truly brought the project to life. It’s a great honor to see our collective efforts acknowledged in such a significant way.

project team awards night (1)
Members of the Rotorua Lakefront Redevelopment Project team proudly displaying their awards at the NZILA Awards ceremony. The innovative landscape design earned them the prestigious Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Award and the George Malcolm Supreme Award. Left to right: Graham Edward (Veros), Aimee McGregor (Veros), Travis McGee (Isthmus), Rob Pitkethley (Rotorua Lakes Council), Nada Stanish (Isthmus) Lyonel Grant (Master Carver and Sculptor), Zac Barker (Isthmus) and Grant Bailey (Isthmus).


The Rotorua Lakefront Development project received two more prestigious awards over the weekend, this time in recognition of the exceptional landscape design that has given life to the project.

The lakefront redevelopment and landscape architects Isthmus were recognised in the Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces category as well as receiving the overall George Malcolm Supreme Award at the Resene New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architecture Awards on Friday night.

The awards celebrate and reward excellence, recognising the creativity, technical capability and diversity of skills that Landscape Architects provide.

The judges were looking for projects that; provided a sense of place, expressed the natural and cultural context of an area, used innovative planning and design solutions, showed environmental stewardship, and were of high quality and performance.

The redevelopment was summed up by the Institute, highlighting the connections that were integral to the project’s design.

This project goes beyond good landscape design, it has drawn people together to understand and reestablish the spiritual and cultural connections between land and water, including wider connections to Te Arawa that are given form through a new relationship with lake edge.  Visually strong whilst considering climate resilience and restoring ecological potential, the Rotorua Lakefront Redevelopment is beautifully and intelligently crafted from the scale of the entire site through to the consistent attention to detail and detailing that leads you on a journey through this landscape.

NZ Institute of Landscape Architects

Up against projects such as the Te Ara Awataha Northcote’s new greenway, Pūtahi Park in Whangarei and Hamilton City Council’s Te Kaaroro Nature Precinct, the project team was beyond proud to come away with the wins.

“It’s fantastic to have such an impactful project acknowledged at the NZILA awards,” says Isthmus Associate Landscape Architect Travis McGee.

 “We set out to create a world class lakefront, reflective of the unique characteristics of Rotorua, and for the people of this place. We are proud to have achieved that vision, to see the space thriving with activity, and to witness the positive impact this place has had on local people.”

Credited as a driver of the overall success of the project was the close collaboration with mana whenua Ngāti Whakaue. Isthmus developed a co-design partnership with Ngāti Whakaue, creating the vision and concepts using expert knowledge to enrich the space with a cultural narrative that shares and celebrates the stories and history of the space.

The vision for the redevelopment was to create a space for locals of all ages and abilities to feel at home, reflecting the unique character of Rotorua, embedding the city’s rich culture and redefining the connection with the lake.

Every space across the redevelopment has been carefully considered, creating a seamless design that enhances visual and physical connections, weaving the cultural narrative inspired by historical events and practices.

Rotorua Lakes Council is thankful to the dedicated project team – Isthmus, council staff, representatives from local iwi and mana whenua Ngāti Whakaue, Te Arawa Lakes Trust, Kānoa – Regional Economic Development & Investment Unit, Veros (Project Management) and DCA Architects of Transformation.

The wider project team included consultants Tonkin & Taylor (Engineering), AECOM (Quantity Surveyor), SEG (Electrical), local artist Lyonel Grant, Wildlands and main contractors Campbell Infrastructure and HEB Construction, with assistance from local companies Sefton Electrical, Infracore and many others.

New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architecture Awards:

  • Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Award
    Public parks or gardens, open space, recreation and sport facilities/spaces.

Strategic projects relative to recreation, amenity, cultural and heritage landscapes, tourism and the non-urban environment in general.

  • George Malcolm Supreme Award

This award recognises the most outstanding achievement in landscape design. A winner will only be selected from the winners of the relevant award categories and awarded if the entry attains this standard of excellence.

These wins are the second awards received for the lakefront project. The Redevelopment was recognised late last year as part of the Property Council’s New Zealand Central Property People Awards, taking home the Supreme Award on that occasion also.

The Lakefront team is now also awaiting results from the Property Council New Zealand Rider Levett Bucknall Property Industry Awards in June. The Rotorua Lakefront Redevelopment has been named as a finalist in the Civic, Health & Arts category.

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