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The Oamaru Mail has claimed the supreme honour at the 2021 New Zealand Community Newspaper Association Awards.

The Allied Press-owned newspaper won the Frank Veale Memorial Award for Best Community Newspaper, it was announced on Monday.

Judge Doug Hendry said the paper, edited by North Otago bureau chief Rebecca Ryan, won “principally because of a weight and breadth of local coverage, some outstanding photographs – and, overall, a lot of photos, well displayed – and consistently good, uncluttered layout”.

reporter Kayla Hodge, who also worked for fellow Allied Press newspaper during the qualifying period, was named best junior sports journalist, an award she also claimed while at Ensign in 2019.

Judge Pete McNae said a year of Covid-related sports disruption meant journalists had to “work beyond the sidelines” and there was “strong lateral thinking in the news gathering and presentation” shown by Miss Hodge and other finalists.

“Clearly, Kayla has built her contact network and worked that to her advantage to find strongly readable angles,” Mr McNae said.

The has also been named as a finalist in the community newspaper of the year category of this year’s Voyager Media Awards.

Reporter Ruby Heyward is a finalist for student journalist of the year and best first-person essay or feature.

Winners will be announced at an awards evening in Auckland on May 28.