Small town community news site rises above the rest

11 January 2016

This is the second blog post to showcase the three New Zealand based winners of the 2015 Australia and New Zealand Internet Awards (ANZIAs). It features a community news website called the Tamahere Forum which was the deserving winner of the Leonie Dunbar Memorial Award for Community Websites.

Tamahere is a rapidly growing rural-lifestyle community of 2000-3000 in the Waikato district. It has a proud history encompassing both Maori and European settlement.

Philippa Stevenson is the founder and editor of the Tamahere Forum and describes it as a community site that reports news that informs, entertains and features stories about local identities and the area's history. It even has a directory of local services and businesses and links to items that are essential for those living in the country. The Forum was set up after a tragedy where the area's Icepak Coolstore exploded in April 2008.

Winning the community website award – and coming out trumps for the whole of New Zealand and Australia – has been a humbling experience for Philippa and the Forum. Philippa says it was a huge honour for the Tamahere Forum – a humble website nestled in a tiny corner of the Internet and working for a small community – to get such recognition. She especially felt it on the awards night when the other award winners spoke about their endeavours. I felt very much in esteemed company, Philippa said.

For Philippa, the ANZIAs has broadened her horizons, exposed her to ideas and was a great platform to promote what she is doing on the Internet.

Next on the list for the Tamahere Forum is finding ways to make it even more relevant and interesting for the people of Tamahere. The Forum has proved a strong advocate for promoting the idea that providing community news is important, necessary, useful and enjoyable.

ANZIA winners are all examples of positive contributions to the use and development of the Internet and the Tamahere Forum does exactly this. It is fantastic to see a community website doing so successfully and not only making an impact on the people of Tamahere but also the wider region.

The 2016 ANZIAs will be launched, with some changes, early next year. Keep an eye on the website for the latest news.