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Recognition . . . The 2017 Trustpower Waitaki District Community Awards winners. PHOTO: WAITAKI DISTRICT COUNCIL

It was a surprised Harbour St Jazz group that claimed the overall prize at the 2017 Trustpower Waitaki District Community Awards at the Oamaru Opera House recently.

The group runs the annual Harbour Street Jazz and Blues Festival.

Harbour St Jazz chairwoman Lucianne White said to win the supreme award over such community-minded groups as the Waitaki Valley Community Society, Palmerston Waihemo A&P Association, Penguin Rescue Group and St John Youth Oamaru was a surprise.

Her group would now represent the district at the National Community Awards, to be held in Queenstown in April.

Mrs White said it was “terribly humbling” to stand up in front of all the community groups at the ceremony when every one of them deserved “huge amounts of recognition” for their work in the Waitaki district.

She said Harbour St Jazz viewed the award as “wonderful recognition” for years of hard work by passionate volunteers.

“Everyone is ecstatic, humbled and very proud to be part of this amazing festival.”

She said the festival was about providing access to culture and music – fundamentals to enjoying life.

The festival also brought people together from different walks of life, Mrs White said.

It gave people a release from working life in a place where they could enjoy culture and the weekend.

Lessons learned from the event and what secured the team the supreme award could be shared with other groups in the area, she said.

Trustpower spokeswoman Emily Beaton said her organisation thought Harbour St Jazz had a “great story to tell”.

Harbour St Jazz received a certificate, a trophy and $1500 prize money.