Connected . . . The Waitaki Multicultural Council and community leaders gathered at The Business Hive on Tuesday to watch the E Tu Whanau Ann Dysart Kahukua Award online ceremony. PHOTO: KAYLA HODGE

Sometimes it’s not about winning, it’s about celebrating the journey.

The Waitaki Multicultural Council was named as one of 11 finalists throughout New Zealand — and the only South Island finalist — for the inaugural E Tu Whanau Ann Dysart Kahukura Award. The award was designed to recognise and celebrate inspirational community leadership.

An award viewing party was held on Tuesday night at The Business Hive, where Waitaki Multicultural Council members and community leaders gathered to watch a live-stream of proceedings.

The award was won by the Waitomo Papakainga Development Society.

Waitaki Multicultural Council former treasurer Sandra Tonkin said it was ‘‘wonderful’’ just to be nominated and recognised on the national stage.

‘‘It’s quite exciting and [we were] honoured to be, I suppose, recognised as one of those communities doing that type of work,’’ Mrs Tonkin said.

‘‘It’s not about winning, it’s about acknowledging all the work around the country, I think, celebrating the community leadership.’’

It was also great to have an award named after Mrs Dysart, E Tu Whanau’s leader and Ministry of Social Development community relationships manager, who died in January last year, she said.

‘‘[Ann was] just such a beautiful and wonderful lady.

‘‘The fact of having an award that is named and acknowledges Ann Dysart, that’s pretty good because it keeps her legacy out there.’’

The Waitaki Multicultural Council supported people of more than 50 different ethnicities throughout the district, organising a range of activities, support agencies, social gatherings and community events celebrating diversity.

Social wellbeing, immigration, housing and employment issues had always been priorities for the council, and it also worked to connect new arrivals through its Newcomers Network.

Mrs Tonkin said the need for the safety and wellbeing support the council offered became more evident during the Covid-19 pandemic.

‘‘We had sort of set up networks where we can actually just help people remotely, or on Zoom, or create activities. Just having that relationship with the community and the people that are needing support [is] a huge thing for us.’’

A lot of people were choosing to settle in Waitaki, many coming from elsewhere in New Zealand, she said.

‘‘Lots of newcomers that are maybe New Zealanders from different regions as well. We cater for them as well, different activities to socially connect.’’

E Tu Whanau Kaiwhakahaere Heni Turner said the organisation worked alongside the multicultural council for years and was in awe of its commitment to the Waitaki district’s communities.

‘‘The manaakitanga, aroha and practical support they offer newcomers to the district has been incredible, creating opportunities for everyone to feel a sense of belonging and enjoy the benefits that diversity brings,’’ Ms Turner said.

‘‘Through their determination, handwork and belief in the strength and power of whanau within their communities, they have changed and enriched peoples’ lives.’’