In the line of an old Abba song, The Winner takes it All, and so it was in the 2008 Wellington Civic Trust awards last night. A friendly Fish-monger sends in this report from the ceremony in Te Papa:

The evening started off promptly, no time for drinkies (or Studio Pacific – who missed out on the news they had won the first prize of the evening by a good 5 minutes!), before leaping straight into the Awards ceremonies. First up was the award for best building in Wellington (constructed in the last 3 years). Nominated by members of the public, and adjudicated upon by a learned cocktail of Dudding, Beard and Toomath, the nominations included Archaus’ very tasty Cuba St headquarters for Kate Sylvester, the glazed recycled cinema of DoC House, the fine timber-feathered form for Meridian on the waterfront, and a few others. Meridian swept away with that award, and deservedly so for a excellent addition to Wellington’s waterfront architecture.


Other awards were: Best Heritage project (judged by David Pucher, Barbara Fill and Con Flinkenberg) – nominees were the holy restoration of the Chapel of St Barnabas, the new life given to Shed 13 by Wellington Waterfront, as well as a nomination for the restoration of the heritage wharf gates nearby, the complete make-over for the old Wellingtonian Rex Nichols and architect Malcolm Perry, and ummm, some others i’m sure: the winner was St Barnabas, assisted by the hand of God, so we were told. A thorough restoration, much better than demolishing the tower and shipping the chapel off to Rathkeale, and a speech that thanked every living parishioner, so it seemed.


Best Environmental (chief judge being Di Buchan): which was up with multiple nominations of Te Kopahau (old Red Rocks quarry shed), Waitangi Park, DoC House again, Meridian again, Karori Wildlife pontoons, and tree pruning on the slopes of Tinakori Hill … lots of rocks, grass and leaves all round – and the prize went to the South Coast and the gracious front door of Red Rocks: Te Kopahau.


Best Public Art (the judging chaired by Callum Strong), with nominations for Waitangi Park’s paint zone, Newtown’s murals, the uncomfortably small and unsavourably smelly alley down off Left Bank, the tunnel under the end of the airport with its pop-culture swatch of colours; so much choice of paint on walls and the surprise win went to a highly deserving win for E and the gang for continually bombing the Left Bank’s back passage with a fine assortment of mural art, and allegedly keeping a picture blog of all the changes on the way – it had all the fashionable and hip words for the century: graffiti, blogging and anonymity.


Best Sculpture, with a great collection of nominations (have all these really been completed in the last 3 years? – what a great city we live in!): Water Whirler (Len Lye’s mad dervish), Solace in the Wind (Max Patte’s naked leaning iron man), Pacific Blue (the neon squiggles), some massive white marble tops by Rutherford House, the spinning boxes on poles on the way to the airport, and a whole lot more. This was voted on by the public, so really does represent the city’s personal preference for: Solace in the Wind. The wonderful squeaky-voiced Weta supremo Richard Taylor read out an enthusiastic letter from a far away Max, evidently well-chuffed he had won.


Best Public Space was the final category, and nominations included the Mt Victoria lookout, Courtenay Park, Cog Park, Kumutoto waterfront, Waitangi Park, and somewhere else – I can’t remember, and it doesn’t matter: with the grand design of Wraight and Athfield pulling off a coup with the rugged, multi-purpose design of open fields, hoop court, kiddies play area, the best triple skate bowl in the southern hemisphere, room to paint bomb, grind, ollie, 180, 360, 520 and all other permutations of goofy-footed board riding in between: all wrapped up in an eco-friendly, species-logical, swale and bio-love-in supreme banana of lush green reeds that seem to thrive in the dirty stream water. Yes, Waitangi swept them all away, and went on to win the Supreme Award as well.


A fun night had by all and well-done to the Civic Trust for an evening of Wellingtonian might and glory, hosted personably by Di Buchan and Seddon Bennington.