Dunedin fairest in the land

Dunedin's best-kept secret is out, with the city named the most beautiful in New Zealand.

The honour was bestowed by Keep New Zealand Beautiful, which yesterday announced Dunedin had won the Beautiful Towns and Cities Award at an awards event in Wellington last weekend.

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said the award was ''fantastic'' for the city, but ''just confirms what we all knew''.

''I think it reinforces what I think is sort of the dual branding of our city, which is beauty and brains, and this is the beauty side.''

The award was also important for a city relying on its wildlife, environment and heritage architecture for its tourism industry.

And, coming just months after Cr David Benson-Pope criticised the cleanliness of the inner city, the award also '' underscores why it's important to keep the city clean'', Mr Cull said.

''It puts the acid on us to make sure we stay beautiful and clean.''

Keep New Zealand Beautiful marketing manager Jackie Sanders, in a statement, said Dunedin was the ''standout winner'' for the award, which recognised community efforts to protect and enhance the environment.

In Dunedin, that included activities ranging from community clean-ups to competitions, the city's mural and bus shelter improvement programme, anti-graffiti initiatives and the work of Task Force Green volunteers.

The success of those programmes was ''testament'' to the work of Keep Dunedin Beautiful co-ordinator and Dunedin City Council community development officer Darlene Thomson, the statement said.

Dunedin also won the Tidy Kiwi Award for the work of the ''Our Seas Our Future'' volunteer group, headed by University of Otago marine biologist Noel Jhinku.

The group co-ordinated regular clean-up events as part of work to protect the coastal and marine environment.

''Their efforts to educate and raise awareness make them the worthy recipients of this year's Tidy Kiwi Award.''

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