Plain Language Awards

Celebrate the stories of our clearest business communicators

Winner: Best Plain English Turnaround 2021

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency

Elizabeth Claridge, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency

Document name

The New Zealand code for cycling

Judges’ comments

Mary McLaughlin
The content has been significantly reworked to support the purpose. It is accurate, relevant and geared towards readers’ needs, with some brave, intelligent choices about what to leave out and what to keep in.

I would use this as an example of great plain English and design. But more importantly as an example of how to work through the process of transforming a document, and of the difference that reader-focused decisions can make.

Susan Kleimann
This is an excellent example of transformation of a mediocre document into an excellent communication. But, more importantly, it is an excellent example of process. This iterative process did not start with writing, but rather with research and analysis to chart a vision. Then it incorporated design, consumer input, professional writers and designers, and subject matter experts to rethink and modify the booklet as it was developed. Not all projects can have the time and resources expended here, but any project can follow this basic process on a smaller scale.

Melissa Kargiannakis
This transformation is beyond beautiful. Words escape me. One of my favourite things was how at the very beginning of the before sample, there was just a list of the laws.

Media statement

We’re delighted to have won this award. Recognition from people that value and promote plain English shows that we succeeded in our goal to make the The New Zealand code for cycling clear for our readers.

We stripped the original document right down to its core purpose – a plain English translation of the legislation. We ran surveys and focus groups to find out which type of language and tone worked best with our audience, as well as to understand how it was performing against its purpose and what people were actually using it for.

We would like to acknowledge the team within Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency who did the hard mahi to deliver the rewritten code and webpages. Thank you also to all the wonderful people who responded to our surveys and focus groups — we could not have done it without you.

Elizabeth Claridge
Senior Advisor Behaviour and Choice
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency