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Repair ‘superheroes’ wanted
Repair ‘superheroes’ wanted

08 April 2024, 5:06 PM

Volunteers with a fix-it ‘superpower’ are being called on for the next round of Repair Revolution events in the Upper Clutha.The Repair Revolution will return to Wānaka on April 14 and May 5, giving people a chance to have their broken items fixed or to receive advice on how they could be repaired.The Wastebusters initiative aims to “leave no broken treasure behind”.Since the Repair Revolution events began in 2020, 1,244 items have been given a second life with help from the volunteer repairers."The volunteers are the heart and soul of the Repair Revolution," Wastebusters event coordinator Celine Van Der Eecken said. "Their dedication and expertise make it possible to breathe new life into broken treasures and reduce waste in the community.”They’ve fixed everything from toys, furniture, bags, clothing, appliances and more, and Wastebusters is seeking fixers of all kinds for the two upcoming events.They will both take place from 11am-3pm at the Wānaka Community Workshop and Fabricate.Everyone is welcome to bring their broken treasures for free advice and repairs at the events and, if you know of specific parts needed for your repair, you should bring them along.Celine said whether you are a bike enthusiast or electrician, darner or sewer, Wastebusters would like to hear from you. Volunteers are welcome to commit to one or both of the events.For more information and to sign up as a volunteer fixer, sign up here.Repair Revolution is part of Wastebusters' Resourceful Communities project, supported by Queenstown Lakes District Council Zero Waste District Programme. PHOTO: Wastebusters

Air sports ‘magic’ at festival
Air sports ‘magic’ at festival

08 April 2024, 5:04 PM

Organisers of the inaugural Wānaka air sports festival MagicLand are already gearing up for next year’s eventThe week-long festival, which took place in mid March at Glendhu Bay, included everything from paragliding, speed flyers and paramotors to aerial performance acrobats.Organisers Vicki Zadrozny and Dan Pugsley said they were stoked with how the event went, from the sunshine and “perfect” flying conditions to the number of participants.“We have kick-started something so unique and special for our sports and communities here in the South Island,” Vicki said. “That’s down to everyone that turned up, showed their support and believed in the vision.”The festival officially opened with Brent Findlay skydiving in with a giant New Zealand flag that could be seen across Wānaka.Vicki and Dan said the event was based on similar festivals in Europe, with the Veko-Extreme Sports Week in Norway and the Buttermere Bash Paragliding and Air Sports Festival in the UK serving as big influences.Highlights of MagicLand included ‘Candy Man’, who released parachutes off lollies from the sky for kids to catch, and the ‘Skytek Expression Session’, which featured a mix of base jumping, wingsuit and tracking suit exists and “was a definite favourite of festival goers,” Vicki said.The event also played host to the Acrofest Finals, New Zealand’s national aerobatic paragliding competition, which was well received by competitors and people watching the action.There were also talks from industry trailblazers, plenty more flying of all sorts, and a celebration with live music and DJs to close the event.Vicki and Dan are Upper Clutha locals and they said Wānaka was the perfect location for the festival with the broad range of outdoor enthusiasts who live here.They thanked all the people who took part, travelling from all over New Zealand to attend, and gave special thanks to Alan Swann, Eric Pemberton, Sue Walsh and Nick Taber.“It was this community of flying legends that made the festival the success it was,” Vicki said.“We can’t wait to do it all again next year. Watch this space to join the fun in 2025.”PHOTOS: Supplied

Farmers question ORC land and water plan
Farmers question ORC land and water plan

08 April 2024, 5:00 PM

Otago Regional Council (ORC) has defended its decision to publicly notify its draft Land and Water Regional Plan (LWRP) in the wake of criticism from Federated Farmers Otago.Councillors voted 7-5 to move forward to the next step with the plan (which is designed to protect Otago’s lakes and rivers) at a meeting on March 27, which Federated Farmers environment spokesman Colin Hurst said was “a poor decision”."The last thing farmers struggling through high interest rates, low payouts and drought conditions want to be waking up to is news that more red tape is likely on the way later this year,” he said.Colin said the government was reviewing national freshwater direction and it had relaxed its timeframes, meaning the LWRP could be a “big waste of ratepayer money” and he asked “why on earth would ORC or other councils choose to push on?”ORC chair Gretchen Robertson told the Wānaka App the council had no legal basis to delay the LWRP.“The government has not directed councils to stop their programme of works towards new Freshwater Plans which include the LWRP,” she said. “The 2027 date for all councils to notify a new plan remains in place.” “Creating a plan is a very long process, ORC has been working on this plan for five years already. All councils are currently working on their plans to meet the 2027 date.”She said any review of national freshwater direction would be a lengthy process and did not mean the ORC would stop work on the LWRP.“While key ministers recommended ORC wait for further direction, they also said [the] government intends to use robust democratic processes to change the current National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management (NPSFM). This will take time.”“Councils have been dealing with constant policy change and must navigate this while undertaking its role responsibly.”The LWRP is an important plan for Otago’s future, Gretchen said.“Otago’s competitive advantage is its outstanding freshwater environments,” she said. “Our job is to ensure we can thrive here in outstanding Otago and not live to regret our decisions.”At last week’s council meeting, ORC councillors agreed to notify the LWRP before October 31 this year.Staff will report back to council at its May 22 meeting with an updated programme of works.PHOTO: Wānaka App

‘Aspiring Conversations’ spark discussion, protest
‘Aspiring Conversations’ spark discussion, protest

07 April 2024, 9:06 PM

Conversations have been the focus of the past four days in Wānaka, as the biennial festival of ideas and kōrero - Aspiring Conversations - took place, centred at the Lake Wānaka Centre.The festival returned after two cancelled programmes due to Covid-19, and the preamble to the programme noted that we “continue to live in challenging times”.“[We] believe it’s more important than ever to gather, to discuss, listen and reflect on the issues that affect us all in our community and the world at large,” the festival team said.Sessions covered a lot of ground from adventurous tales, analysis of today’s media ecosystem, to personal health challenges and the challenging of stereotypes - and much more.What is a conversation?The role of ‘conversation’ in the sessions was debated by some throughout the weekend.“It’s not a conversation if it’s a presentation,” one attendee told the Wānaka App, after being disappointed by one such session. There were grumbles about Saturday’s ‘Ko Kai Tahu me Te Tiriti’ session (outlining how events in Te Waipounamu shaped those at Waitangi), which was concluded abruptly when the clock chimed 12pm. The speakers and audience were moved into the Armstrong Room to continue the session and enable a question and answer session.Despite these quibbles, inside and outside the venue people were engaged in conservation throughout the weekend.But one group of local people were clearly unhappy with the conversation provided by the ‘Truth and Lies’ session on Saturday afternoon. Truth and LiesThe panel consisted of journalist Susie Ferguson, science communicator Siouxsie Wiles, and far right expert Bryon C Clarke, with facilitator Kathryn Ryan. The topic was described as “how we know what is true and how we deal with the misinformation and disinformation that plagues not just social media, but public life”.The presence of security guards and police indicated that organisers were expecting more than conversation. Attendees were asked to surrender their bags for the event, and Kathryn began the session by relaying a message that anyone causing a disruption would be escorted outside.   Attendees surrender their bags before entering the Lake Wānaka Centre. PHOTO: Wānaka AppBut the pushback was peaceful: A few people in the venue took loud exception to Siouxsie Wiles’ assertion that the Covid-19 vaccine was effective; and a line of 12 silent protestors outside the venue held placards honouring people they believe were injured by the Covid-19 vaccine.  Inside, Kathryn Ryan’s experience and skill in speaking to people with disparate views was evident. While the panellists recounted their experiences with misinformation (false information) and disinformation (false information designed to be harmful), Kathryn was also talking to the audience - including those who considered the panellists to be purveyors of disinformation.Facilitator Kathryn Ryan. PHOTO: Lake Wānaka Tourism She said diversity of opinion is important, and some criticism of agencies and institutions is justified. But, she acknowledged: “We’re not just talking about people having differences of opinion”.“The people caught up in this disinformation are our friends and family. This stuff absolutely does go into the real world… There’s a lot of good stuff happening [online],” she added, “but also a lot of shit coming our way.”The session concluded with advice from the panellists on how to avoid being sucked in by false information: “See if anyone else is reporting the issue; see what else a website has on its front page,” Susie advised; “Take everything with a healthy dose of salt… use your brain,” Siouxsie said; “Be sceptical of everything you read,” Byron said. He advised people to follow media sources which are subject to the Broadcasting Standards Authority.Climate: What is the Tipping Point?A full house of attendees at the Lake Wānaka Centre on Sunday (April 7) afternoon were encouraged to take small steps and do what they can now to help reduce emissions and protect the environment.Climate change can be a daunting challenge and former minister for climate change James Shaw encouraged the audience to look at what we can do as individuals from changing to solar, reducing waste, and moving to an electric vehicle.Distinguished international climate scientist (and 2024 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year) Dr Jim Salinger agreed, saying that vehicle emissions make up 40 percent of global CO2 emissions. “It’s the combustion engine,” he said.Jim highlighted the extreme temperature increase in the atmosphere and the world’s oceans which showed significant change towards a warming planet with 2024 recordings well above historic norms.Te Kura o Tititea Mt Aspiring College students James Watson and Elsa Buckley spoke candidly about the anxiety they feel about their future and climate change. James said we need to bring people together for real progress, citing the divisive positioning of people who are for or against climate change as an issue, saying they are at each end of the spectrum.Wao founder Monique Kelly also asserted the need for collective action, saying that communities need to come together to tackle climate change and find solutions. She highlighted the need for systemic change from a fossil fuel-driven economy to a regenerative future that is protective of our environment.The Wānaka App has to agree with the Aspiring Conversations team: the festival’s goal of “stimulating dialogue on critical issues, encouraging reflection and exploration of new ideas, encouraging personal growth, cultural understanding, and social cohesion” is needed - now more than ever.

Important GST changes for short-stay accommodation (Law blog)
Important GST changes for short-stay accommodation (Law blog)

07 April 2024, 8:00 PM

If you rent out a holiday house, room or even your existing home for short stay holiday accommodation through providers like Airbnb and Bookabach, there’s some GST changes that you need to know about.From 1 April, these operators became responsible for charging and collecting GST of 15% on all short-stay holiday lets and it applies even if you earn less than $60,000 a year and aren’t GST registered.Here’s how the changes will work!If you’re GST registered:You need to let your online platform know that you’re GST registered.You will no longer need to issue tax invoices to customers or the platform.You will need to report your accommodation sales in your GST return as zero-rated.You will still be entitled to claim GST on your costs, just as you’ve done in the past, but you won’t receive a flat rate credit from the platform.If you’re not GST registered:You won’t need to register or account for GST as the platform will do this for you. Don’t panic, this doesn’t mean that your property will instantly come into the ‘GST net’ and become taxable on sale.As before, you’ll still need to monitor whether your short-stay property accommodation sales reach the GST threshold, and if they do, you’ll need to register for GST (and then the above will apply).You should also receive extra money from the online platform, and this will be calculated at 8.5% of the GST exclusive price of your accommodation price.

Festival of Colour facing hard financial times
Festival of Colour facing hard financial times

07 April 2024, 5:06 PM

The Southern Lakes Arts Festival Trust, home of the Wānaka Festival Of Colour and Aspiring Conversations, is facing a serious financial challenge, according to festival director Sophie Kelly.Sophie told audiences at the weekend’s Aspiring Conversations (April 4-7) that it was no secret we are in “challenging times” and these are affecting the festival.“As a festival and speaking on behalf of many arts organisations around the country, this time at the moment is looking quite scary for us all,” she said. The two festivals, fixtures in the Wānaka autumn for more than a decade, not only bring the arts and topical speakers here, they also attract hundreds of people and provide a boost to the local economy.The festival’s Crystal Palace. PHOTO: Antony HansenSophie said local body and central government funding will be depleted and the festival is ever more reliant on contributions from donors.“We're actually in quite a serious position at the moment with the festival where… we actually need to really hunker in now for the next three months and try and rebuild our reserves.”Two Aspiring Conversations festivals have been cancelled in recent years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and Sophie said there had been “a huge increase in costs” for the last Festival of Colour (held in 2023).  Sophie said the festival team was hoping to deliver another festival but said they were “digging deep at the moment”.“We've just decided to put that right out there in the open. And to ask people who, if you're not already contributing, please do consider supporting us if you want these kinds of wonderful events to continue.“These experiences [and] conversations are so important in the community, especially with the way of the world at the moment,” she said.  Sophie thanked current donors for their ongoing support.Support the Festival of Colour here.

Cardrona shares its history online
Cardrona shares its history online

07 April 2024, 5:04 PM

The Cardrona Heritage Trust (CHT) has completed a project which makes historical material from the Cardrona Valley available online. CHT chairman John Scurr said the trust wanted to preserve and share historical photographs and family stories that had been given to it for safekeeping.“There's no point storing these things in a box or on someone's personal computer,” he said.“History needs to be shared. The material that the trust was given needed to be transferred to digital format and shared.” He said the trust's long term aim is to create a museum, but that is still some time away. “In the meantime, we needed to catalogue and document material while some older members of the Cardrona community are still able to confirm the content and exact locations of historical photographs.”The CHT had been fortunate to engage the services of Wānaka-based digital media professional Mark Sinclair, John said.“Mark's experience and innovation has produced something that exceeds our expectations.”The trust plans to create a Heritage Trail with QR codes on buildings and poles in key locations throughout Cardrona. “Anyone that scans the QR code with their phone will be instantly connected to online content that explains the history and significance of that particular location,” John said.The CHT hopes the easily accessible material will increase awareness of the large thriving community that once lived in Cardrona. “We also hope that the QR code initiative will become a useful educational tool,” John said.He acknowledged the support of the Central Lakes Trust, which provided a $30,000 grant for the project, and also thanked trustees Mary Lee, Ray O'Callaghan, Alvin Reid, Tim Allan, Blyth Adams and Willy Scurr for their efforts. The CHT will hold a function at the Cardrona Hotel at 4:30 pm on Thursday April 11 to showcase and release their online material. All interested parties are welcome to attend, John said.PHOTO: Supplied

First phase of Makarora rat, stoat operation
First phase of Makarora rat, stoat operation

05 April 2024, 4:06 PM

The Department of Conservation (DOC) is undertaking a rat and stoat control operation in the Makarora area from today (Saturday April 6). The operation, a response to high rat numbers resulting from a beech mast in 2023, is part of DOC’s National Predator Control Programme.“These rodents seriously threaten the survival of the mohua populations in the area, and negatively impact other native species,” DOC Central Otago District said in a statement.Helicopters will be sowing a ‘pre-feed’ of non-toxic cereal pellets which accustom the pests to see the pellets as food, “which greatly increases the effectiveness of the poison operation”. DOC said today’s operation only involves non-toxic pellets.The non-toxic baits (about 3cm long, cylinder shaped and brown) are deployed at 1.5kg/ha. The 1080 poison pellets (dyed green) will be sown in one to six weeks time. The approximately 36,000ha treatment area includes the Makarora, Blue, Young, Siberia and Wilkin Valleys. (Find a detailed map of the application area here.)“This operation is weather dependent, if difficult operating conditions are encountered on Saturday 6th April work may continue into Sunday 7th April,” DOC said. As a result of the operation the Blue Pools Carpark will be closed, as will the immediate surrounding public conservation land. The entrance to the Blue Pools Track will be closed from 9am Friday April 5 to at least 9am Sunday April 7. The Cameron Flat Campground will be closed during the same period.If weather or other issues cause the operation to extend into Sunday the closures will be extended until 9am on Monday (April 8) .For further information email [email protected] or call 0800 ASK DOC (0800 275 362) or 027 262 6309.PHOTO: Marty Taylor/NZ Geographic

Daylight saving, life-saving checks
Daylight saving, life-saving checks

05 April 2024, 4:04 PM

Clocks go back one hour tomorrow morning (Sunday April 7) and Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) is reminding everyone to check their smoke alarms are working and in the right places this daylight-saving weekend.  “When you’re sleeping, you can’t smell smoke, but smoke from a house fire can be fatal within three minutes,” FENZ community education manager Adrian Nacey said.“Working smoke alarms in the right places will give you the earliest possible warning. They are your best chance of surviving a house fire.”FENZ recommends having a working smoke alarm in every bedroom, hallway and living area.  “Closed doors stop smoke alarms from detecting smoke, so it’s important there are enough smoke alarms installed to cover your whole house,” Adrian said.“Test your smoke alarms at least every six months. Press the button in the centre of the alarm and hold down until you hear a beep. Use a broom handle if you can’t reach the button.”  FENZ also recommends that you vacuum or dust your smoke alarms every six months to help avoid false alarms. Adrian also encouraged everyone to keep an eye on the expiry date for their smoke alarms.   “The expiry date is usually located on the bottom or side of the alarm. If there’s no expiry date, it’s best to replace the alarm.”“Take the time this weekend to get prepared. It’s also a great opportunity to come up with a 3-Step Escape Plan with your family and practise it,” he said.A 3-Step Escape Plan includes having working smoke alarms in the right places, two ways out and a safe meeting place.Find more information on how to look after smoke alarms, and to create a three-step escape plan here.

Students strike for climate action
Students strike for climate action

04 April 2024, 4:06 PM

Locals are being asked to join a climate strike taking place in Wānaka today (Friday April 5).Students from Te Kura O Tititea Mt Aspiring College (MAC) will participate in the School Strike for Climate, which is taking place at a range of locations across New Zealand including Wellington, Auckland, Dunedin, and Hamilton.“This strike is striving for climate action so that this government cannot take us backward and instead, take us forward,” a MAC climate strike student organiser said. “The strike also includes other demands covering Te Tiriti and human rights.”The majority of MAC’s Team Green (MAC’s environmental group) students and Sustainability Committee members are expected to take part, they said.Wao Aotearoa is encouraging locals to join the students at today’s strike, which will start at MAC at 1pm. “We need to support our youth to make sure their voice is heard,” Wao founder Monique Kelly told the Wānaka App. “Younger generations will feel the impacts of climate change much more than the older generations,” she said. “Without the right to vote, climate strikes have been their way of voicing their opinion and getting the climate conversation front and centre in communities.” Monique said the School Strike for Climate movement has had a “huge impact” on momentum towards climate action since 2018.“At the grassroots level, we're really seeing businesses, organisations and individuals take up the challenge to tackle the problem, which is really encouraging.”The MAC representative said the strike “is incredibly important to many of us in the student body because it's our only way as youth to try to strive for change in the government”. “The government holds an awful lot of power and with this new one we are already seeing potential issues.”The Wānaka School Strike 4 Climate will begin at Lismore Park outside the entrance to MAC at 1pm today and follow the Lismore Park pathway and then continue into Wānaka township.PHOTO: Wānaka App

$250M upgrade for road to Queenstown Airport
$250M upgrade for road to Queenstown Airport

04 April 2024, 4:04 PM

The government announced yesterday (Thursday April 4) that it has more than doubled the budget for Queenstown's SH6 upgrades to an eye-watering $250M.Transport minister Simeon Brown was in Frankton to turn the first sod as the four-year Queenstown New Zealand Upgrade Programme gets underway.He confirmed the government has upped the budget for the project from its original $113M.“We know the significant benefits around efficiency and productivity of this critical roading connection need to happen,” he said.Transport Minister Simeon BrownThe project includes the remodelling of the BP roundabout, an upgrade of Frankton bus station, a new roundabout at the Lakes Hayes Estate turnoff on Ladies Mile, and various other improvements to SH6, including five sets of traffic lights.The first 18 months will include work to improve underground services, including installing a 1.4 metre diameter stormwater pipe. All that work will be off the highway, so it won't cause too much disruption to traffic, NZTA said.Contractors will begin felling trees at the Frankton golf course, opposite the bus interchange, on Monday (April 8) morning.The BP roundabout will be replaced with a traffic lights intersection, featuring new bus lanes and improved access for pedestrians and cyclists. Around 27,000 vehicles pass through the BP roundabout on an average day, and up to 44,000 on peak days, according to NZTA figures, while an estimated 15,000 per day use the bus hub.The project aims to improve traffic flow along SH6 and SH6A, between Frankton and Lake Hayes, and provide better road conditions for buses and active travel.The works are being delivered via the Kā Huanui a Tāhuna alliance, which has been responsible for the overbudget Queenstown Town Centre Arterial Stage 1 project.PHOTOS: Paul Taylor

Managing Otago’s natural resources: Policy open for consultation
Managing Otago’s natural resources: Policy open for consultation

04 April 2024, 4:00 PM

A policy statement which sets the direction for future management of Otago's natural and physical resources has been approved for public notification.Otago Regional Council (ORC) councillors approved the notification of the Proposed Otago Regional Policy Statement (pORPS) at a full council meeting last week.“The pORPS shapes the management of Otago’s resources and will be important for, among other things, the Land and Water Regional Plan,” ORC chair Gretchen Robertson said.She said the statement identifies regionally significant issues around the management of Otago’s natural and physical resources and sets out what needs to be achieved and the way in which it will be achieved.The pORPS is broken into two parts: freshwater and non-freshwater.The freshwater part covers the regulation, environmental protections and water quantity and quality for lakes and dams and rivers and streams across Otago. The non-freshwater part covers coast, air, urban areas, wetlands, regionally significant issues, natural features and landscapes, ecosystems and indigenous biodiversity, hazards and risks and manawhenua issues.The councillors decision to approve the pORPS came after a report by two independent hearing panels.“We thank the panel for providing their well thought out report and decision, and for the many submitters who committed a great deal of time to prepare and present to the panel,” Gretchen said. “This was a robust process with plenty of good evidence provided.”The panel’s decision, alongside the pORPS, are now available on the ORC website.ORC policy and science general manager Anita Dawe said this step now moves the pORPS into the “next phase” of the process.Submitters can now lodge legal appeals on the decisions, she said.However, until the appeals process is resolved, it is still a “proposed” plan.Find more information about the pORPS, the appeals process and the panel’s recommendations at the ORC website.PHOTO: Wānaka App

PM Christopher Luxon announces building products shake-up
PM Christopher Luxon announces building products shake-up

04 April 2024, 8:55 AM

The government has announced a plan to make it easier and cheaper for builders to use overseas building products by loosening rules.Instead, builders could rely on building standards from trusted overseas jurisdictions, Building and Construction Minister Chris Penk announced on Thursday (April 4).He said it was currently about "50 percent more expensive to build a stand-alone house here than in Australia".The changes announced include:Recognising building product standards from trusted overseas jurisdictions, removing the need for designers or builders to verify standards.Requiring building consent authorities to accept the use of products that comply with specific overseas standards that are equivalent to or higher than those in New Zealand.Approving the use of building products certified through reputable certification schemes overseas. For example, the approval of one Australian scheme, WaterMark, could immediately provide Kiwis with access to 200,000 products.Penk said the government hoped to pass legislation to enable this structure by the end of 2024.While looking at products in Australia was a start, Penk said the government would also look at products from countries that had a good engineering reputation."The building consent authorities will have to approve the building project overall. For example, not only that the product is robust and of high quality, but also that it's going to be used in a way that's appropriate."Prime Minister Christopher Luxon pointed to North America, saying "great houses are being built in other countries around the world that have equal if not better standards than New Zealand".New Zealand should not be afraid of importing those international products, he said. He suggested New Zealand could also shift away from having councils act as building consent authorities, saying overseas jurisdictions had far fewer - sometimes just one - for the entire country.Penk said the cost of building a house in New Zealand had gone up 41 percent since 2019."This is a major shakeup that will drive down the cost of building without compromising on quality, to make it easier and more affordable for people to build or renovate a home."It will also help improve the country's resilience to supply chain disruptions and reduce barriers for Kiwi businesses trying to find alternative approval pathways in New Zealand and export their product overseas," Penk said.Luxon and Penk had been visiting the EasyBuild Homes factory ahead of their announcement, a New Zealand-owned company making New Zealand-designed housing products.EasyBuild co-founder Michael Fox told RNZ the system was like the "Ikea of the building industry", putting the materials needed to construct a home - frame, wall panels, windows and all - flat-packed into a container crate, so it could be quickly constructed by a pair of semi-skilled labourers."Only thing you don't get is your floor coverings, your electrical wiring ... and your plumbing which goes behind the wall," Fox said. "We're like the Toyota Corolla of the housing industry, so we're producing lots of houses that are similar but they can be customised to actually make them a little bit unique."What New Zealand needs to understand ... is that we need a two-tier building industry. One where you can buy houses at a price point that are efficient, economical and can produce quickly - and then if you want your own bespoke house then you can have one, but then you pay a premium for that."The changes from the government were a "really good first step" for making it easier to build homes, he said."Coupled with, I suppose, freeing up the supply chain so that when these new products can come in they are actually freely stocked within the existing supply chains."If they close ranks and the merchants don't, say, support products coming in from overseas, then we won't get much change - but this first step is a very good thing the government has done."He said the change was an important piece to the puzzle for boosting productivity.Luxon this week laid out a new "action plan" that includes 36 goals to be achieved by 30 June 2024.It included releasing a draft plan to ease restrictions on building materials from overseas for public consultation.In March, the government asked councils to publish their building consent data.Applications for building consents and code compliance certificates must be completed within 20 days, but Penk had said the sector was telling him that was often not the case.He had signalled Thursday's move in February, saying it would help avoid disruption to supply of specific products, such as the Gib shortage which came to a head in 2022.PHOTO: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Councillors to consider fees, trees, and Kiwis
Councillors to consider fees, trees, and Kiwis

03 April 2024, 4:06 PM

A bumper Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) meeting covering user fees and charges, tree and fraud policies and Project Manawa will take place this afternoon (Thursday April 4).Councillors will decide whether or not to approve a wide range of price increases for use for council’s facilities and services, from swimming lessons to court hire and Food Act audit fees.Many of these increases fall well under the annual inflation rate, with swimming lessons ranging from no change up to a 4.8 percent increase depending on the group and most other pool fee categories due to increase by no more than four percent.Last year the council backpedalled on proposed fee increases of up to 73.9 percent at the pool (for swim lanes) after pushback from the public. Other Wānaka Recreation Centre fees like courts, meeting rooms and stadium hire will increase by less than 4.2 percent under the proposal going to councillors today.At the Lake Wānaka Centre, Luggate Memorial Centre and Hāwea Flat Hall, proposed increases are also no more than four percent in most cases for use of the kitchen, meeting room, venues and the like.At the opposite end, a proposal to increase mooring fees by up to 357 percent is likely to receive pushback, with deputy mayor Quentin Smith saying he will not support the increase at today’s meeting.Read more: Frustration over moorings; fees may more than doubleOther agenda items councillors will consider at today’s meeting include an updated tree policy (which includes more detail on topping trees and why it is prohibited as well more detail on what constitutes a ‘significant tree’) and an updated fraud policy (which has been expanded to include a fraud control plan, broadened scope, and a revised definition of fraud).Queenstown-centred items will include a hearings panel report on Project Manawa (a new council office building and civic centre billed for Queenstown CBD) and a decision on whether or not to extend by 15 years the lease for the Kiwi Birdlife Park in Queenstown.There are also two publicly excluded items.Today’s QLDC full council meeting will take place at 2pm at the council chambers in Queenstown.PHOTO: Supplied

Crimeline: Well-behaved Warbirds, burnouts, vandalism
Crimeline: Well-behaved Warbirds, burnouts, vandalism

03 April 2024, 4:04 PM

Restricted trading hours for bars and a well-behaved crowd for Warbirds Over Wānaka helped reduce police work over Easter weekend, Wānaka Police reported this week.Warbirds was the main event for the weekend, generating large crowds around Wānaka. “On the whole a very well behaved crowd with no offences reported over the three days,” Sergeant Kim Chirnside said.“Most complaints were in relation to traffic and parking and the likes, which are part and parcel of an event that size.”He said police were very pleased with the behaviour of the crowd, and alcohol was consumed responsibly. Rabbit Pass 1, Trampers 0A group of four trampers on the Rabbit Pass circuit activated their personal location beacon “after reassessing the difficulty of a descent,” Kim said.They were retrieved by rescue helicopter on Friday.While not commenting on the specific situation, Kim said a lack of research and resilience to find an alternative solution demonstrated by some trampers was “a broad theme”.“It continues to frustrate police and rescue staff the lack of awareness people have over their abilities… Sometimes it’s a lack of research, some of it’s a lack of resilience to be able to say ‘well, I’ll go back’,” he said.Burnout car impounded A vehicle was impounded after doing burnouts in the Dungarvon carpark (near the skate park) on Sunday evening at 7.30pm.“It was a very busy time, a packed carpark, and the skidmarks are visible,” Kim said.“It was an out-of-town driver and he will have to return back here to go to court and his car has been taken.”Other incidentsThere were reports of damage to property at the Lake Hāwea Tennis Club over the weekend.“Some seats have been vandalised,” Kim said.While a member of the Hāwea Community Association said on social media that at least one of three young people caught on security cameras had been identified by a parent, Kim said at this stage the police hadn’t been provided with names. “We will follow up that information if they have it. We will be looking into it.”A raft of about five drivers had their licences suspended in the last seven days due to excess demerit points.“It’s a good reminder from police that demerit points do catch up with drivers who continue to offend… and they lose their licence for three months.”Call 111 when you need an emergency response from police, fire or ambulance.Call 105 to report things that don’t need urgent police assistance.Call *555 to report road incidents that are urgent but not life-threatening.To make an anonymous crime report contact Crime Stoppers.PHOTO: Wānaka App

Milestone for regenerative tourism initiative
Milestone for regenerative tourism initiative

03 April 2024, 4:00 PM

Local charitable organisations in the environmental sector can now apply for up to $10,000 from the first round of the Love Wānaka and Love Queenstown community funds, which opened today (Thursday April 4).Community funding platforms Love Wānaka and Love Queenstown were formed last year by the district’s regional tourism organisations with the goal of promoting regenerative tourism by providing visitors with opportunities to contribute to local environmental projects.“In just one year we’ve formed a number of key partnerships and have had some great support from the tourism industry, with businesses big and small contributing both financially and in-kind,” community fund coordinator Ash Bickley said. Groups like Siddartha’s Intent NZ and GOOD Travel have made generous financial contributions, she said, and with $75,000 raised in the last year, funding is now set to go back to local charities to support their work.Love Wānaka and Love Queenstown Community Funds are designed to promote regenerative tourism and help visitors to give back to the district when they visit. PHOTO: Jordan SiobhanGrants of between $5,000 and $10,000 will be allocated to registered local charitable entities who work within the climate, conservation, and biodiversity spaces. Special consideration will be given to organisations and initiatives that will provide long-term benefits and those that have great visibility for both locals and visitors.“These funds represent a groundbreaking collaboration, a New Zealand first…demonstrating the potential for replication across the country,” Destination Queenstown chief executive Mat Woods said.As well as the financial component, Love Wānaka and Love Queenstown made progress on the goal of encouraging visitors to give their time while they are here, and Ash said a particular highlight in the first year had been the planting days.More than 250 volunteers gave their time to plant 4,000+ native seedlings in just six months, accelerating native revegetation efforts and supporting the Whakatipu Reforestation Trust and Mana Tāhuna, she said.In Wānaka, groups also gave their time, for example Siddartha’s Intent NZ planted trees at the Bullock Creek wetlands area.Read more: Global Buddhist gathering gives back to community“This is a project for our community and for our place,” Mat said, “with the intention to create opportunities for our visitor industry to support a regenerative approach and accelerate the efforts of local groups who operate in this space.”The inaugural Love Wānaka and Love Queenstown funding round is open until May 16.Find more information on how to apply here.

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