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Worsening student behaviour causes disruption
Worsening student behaviour causes disruption

14 April 2024, 5:06 PM

Behaviour in New Zealand schools has been worse than in other countries during the past two years, and behaviour at Te Kura o Tititea Mt Aspiring College (MAC) is part of the trend.A recent Education Review Office (ERO) report on student behaviour in New Zealand classrooms says teachers and principals have seen a rise in talking inappropriately in class, distracting others, refusing to follow instructions, damaging or taking property, and physicallyharming others.The Wānaka App has been told of a shift in students' behaviour and attitude over the past few years, with “entitled and rude” behaviour becoming a problem for MAC staff.MAC principal Nicola Jacobsen said the Upper Clutha community is growing, and with that comes a greater diversity of values and needs.“Over the past two years, we have seen some change in student behaviour; there are more complex needs (mental health, learning needs and behavioural needs) and this is highlighted in the ERO report,” she said.Nicola Jacobsen PHOTO: Supplied“We believe the primary reason for the change in student behaviour has come about as a result of the pandemic, and the uncertainty and stress associated with that situation,” she said, adding that it has resulted in “challenging behaviours” from some students.MAC recently closed some student toilets (accessed from outside) after ongoing damage caused by “a small number of students”, Nicola said.“We decided to close some of the affected toilets and have a staff member on duty outside the open toilets to help monitor their use.”Classroom behaviour has worsened - report The ERO report, ‘Good Practice Report: Behaviour in our Classrooms’, surveyed 1,557 teachers and 547 principals; drew from site visits and online sessions with 10 schools, a literature review and statistical analysis of Ministry of Education data from 2022-2023.It found that behaviour in New Zealand schools has been worse than in other countries in the past two years, with New Zealand teens reporting classroom disruption at higher rates than students in other OECD countries.Half the teachers surveyed said disruptive behaviour has become worse in the past two years and a quarter of principals have seen students physically harm others, and damage or take property, at least every day.Three-quarters of teachers said disruptive behaviour affects students' progress and two-thirds said it has a big impact on students' enjoyment of school.ERO Education Evaluation Centre head Ruth Shinoda told RNZ the review office was very concerned about the situation: "It's been bad in New Zealand for a long time, but it's got worse over the last two years.”She said teachers were now raising concerns, saying behaviour was getting in the way of teaching. Ruth said there was no single cause for the increase in poor behaviour, which was also happening in other countries."It's a combination of technology, stresses on kids and of course some of the anxieties that have come after Covid and that plays out in behaviour.”Read more: Rising levels of violence and disruption in the classroom: 'It's getting in the way of teaching'What now?The report said schools need more accountability and clearer expectations, greater efforts to prevent bad behaviour, more support and training for teachers, and effective consequences for badly-behaved children.Nicola said MAC puts students' wellbeing at the centre of its educational approach and staff work hard “to build a safe, caring and inclusive environment”.She said the school values define expectations about behaviour [those values are creating strong relationships that foster a unique sense of belonging and support for each other; respect for each other and the environment; acting with integrity and pride of themselves and the school; and understanding and acceptance of each other].MAC uses a Positive Behaviour for Learning (PB4L) framework designed to improve the behaviour and wellbeing of students through tools that support positive behaviours, and a restorative approach model. Nicola said that model “focuses on building and maintaining positive, respectful relationships across the school community and leads to individuals taking responsibility for their behaviour”.MAC also has a pastoral care team to support students, which includes: junior and senior deans, a behavioural psychologist, specialist guidance counsellors, and youth workers from Kahu Youth and 24-7, along with support from the Ministry of Education (behaviour psychologists, resource learning and behaviour teachers).Nicola said recent initiatives that are helping to support student wellbeing and positive behaviour include: a stronger mobile phone policy, the positive impact of student-led committees, the tuakana teina buddy programme, and the peer support programme.Meanwhile education minister Erica Stanford said she would follow up with the Ministry of Education on how the report's recommendations (including better training for teachers, a national approach to behaviour and having clear guidance on having effective consequences for poor behaviour) could be speedily progressed.

Campground’s new owner to hold public meeting
Campground’s new owner to hold public meeting

14 April 2024, 5:04 PM

A public meeting in May will give Glendhu Bay campers and locals the chance to speak with the new leaseholders, including the CEO and “other key staff”.The lease for the motor camp was acquired by Australian company Hampshire Holiday Parks Ltd last year after receiving Overseas Investment Office (OIO) approval.Chatter over concerns that the new leaseholders would alter the ‘Kiwi camping experience’ families have enjoyed for many decades began before OIO approval and has continued since. One of those concerned campers is Doug Fraser, who told the Wānaka Upper Clutha Community Board (WUCCB) in March he had camped at the iconic motor park for decades.“There’s changes afoot and changes already happening that have moved away from the kiwi camping experience,” Doug said.Doug asked the board and councillors to “play a role” if there is “any change in the way the campground is administered”.In a statement announcing the public meeting, Hampshire New Zealand CEO Frank Sharkey said there had been “...no substantive changes to operations since the change of leaseholder owner”. The meeting will introduce key staff to attendees and provide “an update on operations and proposed minor improvements to the camp”, he said.Some of those improvements were signalled in the OIO decision, which said the new owners plan on upgrading the holiday parks by constructing cabins, refurbishing the rooms and introducing environmental projects like rain water tanks and electric vehicle charging stations.The Scaife family gifted the Glendhu Bay campground land in 1920 on the proviso it was to remain in perpetuity as “an affordable camp for everyday Kiwis”.The Wānaka App obtained a copy of the lease for the camping grounds, which says Queenstown Lakes District Council (the landowner) has outsourced the camping grounds’ operations in a manner that “provides a traditional and simple ‘kiwi camping experience…that is financially feasible for all users”.The OIO decision also said it “conditioned the applicant not to substantially alter the operations of Glendhu Bay Motor Camp”.Read more: Assurances given that classic Kiwi camping experience will be preservedHampshire Holiday Parks Ltd also acquired the lease for the Wānaka Lakeview Holiday Park, Albert Town Camp Ground, Queenstown Lakeview Holiday Park, and Arrowtown Holiday Park following the OIO process.The Glendhu Bay Motor Camp has since been renamed ‘Hampshire Holiday Parks - Glendhu Bay’.The public meeting will take place on Friday May 17 at 10am in the holiday park’s guest lounge area.Hampshire Holiday Parks Ltd (which has a portfolio of holiday parks across Australia) was approached for comment.PHOTO: Supplied

Big crowds expected at ANZAC Day services
Big crowds expected at ANZAC Day services

14 April 2024, 5:00 PM

Organisers are anticipating large crowds will attend the various ANZAC Day services at Wānaka and Hāwea this year on Thursday, April 25.The number of people attending local dawn services, in particular, has swelled in recent years.Hāwea ANZAC committee chair John Taylor said he’d witnessed 600-700 attendees in the previous few years but just last year it “exploded” to more than 940 people at the service.“I think it’s just the community involvement. Everyone knows someone who’s involved, from the school’s participation to people reading the prayer or leading the ode,” he said.Hāwea’s Dawn Service is held around the monument on the peninsular above the dam and the large numbers attending have encouraged the committee to look at upgrading the site for future ANZAC services.“We’re looking at improving the northern aspect, north of the monument, to make it more service friendly,” John said.He said talks with the landowner, Contact Energy, to undertake some minor earthworks were “looking positive”.And Hāwea’s new roundabout under construction near the peninsula will not be an impediment to those attending the service. “We’re confident that the new roundabout at Capell Avenue-Domain Road will be operational and sealed by ANZAC Day,” Queenstown Lakes District Council media liaison Sam White said.In addition to the Hāwea service, there will be two services in Wānaka.Crowds gather at Wānaka’s Cenotaph to lay wreaths and poppies. PHOTO: Wānaka AppWānaka’s Dawn Service is on the Roys Bay foreshore opposite Helwick Street, while the Civic Service will be held in the Lake Wānaka Centre, followed by the traditional march by service personnel up Ardmore Street and the laying of wreaths and poppies at the Wānaka Cenotaph at the top of Chalmers Street.This year the civic service will be accompanied for the first time by the internationally acclaimed New Zealand youth choir. The choir is on a tour of Otago and will have a full public performance at the Lake Wānaka Centre that afternoon at 4:00pm.There’s also a new time planned for this year’s community breakfast for ANZAC participants. It will be provided by volunteers from the Wānaka Lions Club in the Armstrong Room at the Lake Wānaka Centre, starting after the dawn service finishes around 7:30am.Alexandra-based bagpiper Clifford Hiscoke is also returning to Wānaka to add the evocative sounds of the pipes to the Wānaka services and, depending on the weather, a Tiger Moth is scheduled to conduct a flypast of the Hāwea and Wānaka dawn services, returning later to fly over Lake Wānaka and the Cenotaph.  The ANZAC services begin with dawn parades starting at 7:00am in both Hāwea and Wānaka; the civic service is at 9:30am at the Lake Wānaka Centre; and the wreath and poppy laying ceremony at Wānaka’s Cenotaph usually begins around 10:45am with the flypast around 11:00am.The ANZAC Day services are preceded by Poppy Day, designed to raise funds for the Returned Services Associations, which this year will be held on Friday April 19.

Fire season changes
Fire season changes

12 April 2024, 5:06 PM

Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) has revoked the prohibited fire season in a range of nearby zones, including Glendhu Bluffs, from 8am this morning (Saturday April 13).The change moves Glendhu Bluffs, Central, Upper Waitaki, Strath Taieri and Naseby to a restricted fire season, which means people can only light outdoor fires if they have a fire permit approved by FENZ. A fireworks ban in the zone is also being lifted this morning, but this does not apply to the ‘prohibited’ special risk zones as well as Glendhu Bluffs. Wānaka is part of Otago’s Lakes zone., which is currently also in a restricted fire season."Heavy rain this week broke the back of dry conditions and reduced the fire danger right across the district," FENZ Otago district manager Phil Marsh said.Apart from significant recent rainfall, vegetation is becoming damper with cooler temperatures, longer nights and more dew in the mornings.Caution around lighting outdoor fires is nonetheless still advised, Phil said. There has been a lot of grass growth over summer which can be further dried out by frosts. People need to take care whenever they light fires.The fire season change will enable farmers to use fire for land management purposes ahead of winter, Phil said."It is important people are aware they must still have the necessary permissions and ensure any fires are kept well controlled and safe,” he said. “Always visit the Check It’s Alright website before lighting and avoid lighting fires during or ahead of strong winds."“Because fire and activity restrictions or prohibitions change depending on fire risk conditions, and special risk sub-zones have differing fire controls, people should search for their exact location at the Check It’s Alright website,” he said.

Food resourcefulness programme coming up
Food resourcefulness programme coming up

12 April 2024, 5:04 PM

Wastebusters has launched a four-week programme designed to help locals monitor their food waste, keep on top of the contents of their fridge, and make use of every bite before it spoils.It is one of four Zero Waste Network Aotearoa regional hubs selected to help co-design and deliver ‘Every Bite’, which has a goal of reducing food waste across the country by 10 percent.Wastebusters campaign lead Toby Butland is encouraging local households to take part.“Every Bite is a fantastic programme to help households see how small tweaks and changes to their habits can drastically reduce the amount of food waste that they generate, saving grocery costs in the process,” he said.According to Love Food Hate Waste, New Zealand households throw away more than 157,000 tonnes of edible food every year.“That’s enough to feed everyone in the Upper Clutha region for more than 20 years,” Toby said.Toby said he took part in the pilot Every Bite programme and saw the benefits for himself.“It’s easy and takes no time at all. Seeing what our food waste was made up of was a real eye opener.“As a household, we became more creative and mindful in our cooking and food portioning, and we saw a marked reduction in both our shopping bill and our food waste. “The changes we made over the four-week programme have just become the norm for us now.”Every Bite participants will receive resources, ideas and recipes to keep their household on track and they will have access to a Facebook group where they can share their progress and ideas with other participants, ask questions, discuss challenges and celebrate the wins made along the way.It will begin with an in-person event at Lake Wānaka Centre on April 29 at 6pm, where Dripping Bowl owner and zero waste champion Evelyn Vallilee will offer up industry tips to reduce spoilage, ideas for recipe substitutes, and provide participants with some tasty treats to get the programme under way.“We know communities in the region care about minimising their waste throughout their households and we’re really looking forward to helping people move toward greater food resourcefulness,” Toby said.The programme costs $10, with all proceeds going to local food recovery charity Kiwi Harvest. Registration can be made on Humanitix or via the Wastebusters website.PHOTO: Orla Ó Muiri

Competition caps off great season
Competition caps off great season

12 April 2024, 5:00 PM

Phoebe Laker’s meteoric success continues after she set a new record at the South Island Secondary Schools (SISS) athletics competition last weekend.The Te Kura O Tititea Mt Aspiring College (MAC) student’s 57.08sec time broke the previous Girls Under 15 400m record of 57.41sec, which was set in 2016. The result was not only the best time in the 14-year-old’s age group - and Phoebe’s personal best (PB) - but also the best time from all girls’ age groups that day including the Girls U19.Team manager Mandy Enoka said the achievement was the latest of many by the focused rising star, who is coached by Michael Beable.Read more: More records shattered by Wānaka sprinterHer record was a standout achievement but one of many great performances by MAC athletes at the competition, which took place in Timaru from April 5-7.Phoebe was part of the four-person team (also featuring Eve Pfahlert, Amaya East and Millie East) that earned first place in the 400m relay and third in the 100m relay.Mandy said Phoebe was the last of the four to race in the 400m and brought the team across the line in first place just ahead of the competition with a “thrilling three-way finish”.“It was certainly a fantastic run from those girls together,” she said.The local boys also earned a podium finish in the 100m relay with Ryan Enoka, Matthew Botting, Cody Armstrong and Cameron Armstrong taking second place, a “fantastic” result, Mandy said.Another top result was earned by Stan Parker who achieved first place in the Boys High Jump U19 with a height of 1.80m.Individual second place finishes were earned by Cody Armstrong (with 50.55sec in the Boys 400M U19) and Millie East (with 59.76sec in the Girls U19 400M).There were also four individual third place finishes, achieved by Cody Armstrong (with 11.65sec in the Boys 100M U19), Amaya East (with 2:23:37 in the Girls 800M U16), Ryan Enoka (with 36.27m in the Boys Hammer Throw 5kg U19), Matthew Botting (with 11.83m in the Boys Triple Jumper Under 19).Taking into account the relays, all nine MAC athletes who competed earned a podium finish, which was a fantastic result, Mandy said.She said the competition was a great way to cap off the season and the support both from the parents and among the athletes was great to see. “The athletes have done a lot together over the years and watching the way they supported each other was really neat.”PHOTO: Mandy Enoka

Speed led to death of motorcyclist - Coroner
Speed led to death of motorcyclist - Coroner

11 April 2024, 5:06 PM

The 2020 death of a Wānaka man was the result of positional asphyxia after he failed to negotiate a curve while motorcycling, the coroner has found.Matthew Clark, a 44-year-old self-employed labourer and gardener and a resident of Albert Town, was “passionate about riding motorcycles”, coroner Ruth Thomas said.Witnesses saw a person matching his description travelling on Cardrona Valley Road on his Yamaha YZF1 the evening before his body was found in a paddock next to the road.One witness described the vehicle as “screaming” along the road in the direction of Queenstown and another said they had commented to their wife about its “enormous speed”.A third person said the motorcycle approached his car from behind at speed and accelerated before sweeping past his car and two other vehicles.He said he believed the motorbike was doing at least twice his speed of 95km per hour.Matthew’s body and motorbike were discovered in the paddock at around 7am on March 6 by a member of the public.The coroner said a pathologist had concluded the cause of his death was due to positional asphyxia occurring while comatose after impact.Matthew had been wearing a full-face motorcycle helmet and the chin bar section of the full-face helmet was pushed hard against the nose, covering his mouth entirely.  The pathologist said there was a very high probability the helmet has obstructed respiration, particularly given he was found lying down with his chest on the ground.  Matthew had left the road after failing to negotiate a curve.“Based on the witness observations from that evening an inference can be drawn that Mr Clark was riding his motorcycle at speed,” the coroner said. “I am satisfied, it is likely that high speed led to Mr Clark failing to negotiate the curve and continuing to ride straight ahead off the road.”Toxicological analysis identified the presence of a low level of alcohol, the presence of diazepam and cannabis.The death was ruled an accident.PHOTO: Supplied

Aspen delegation to Queenstown Lakes
Aspen delegation to Queenstown Lakes

11 April 2024, 5:04 PM

A visiting delegation from Aspen, Colorado will share ideas with local representatives and discuss the common challenges faced by the two tourism hotspots at a ‘sister city’ event this week.The visit provides opportunities to share knowledge and reciprocal learnings around regenerative tourism, housing, economic diversity and arts and culture, which are areas of focus for both destinations, mayor Glyn Lewers said.Aspen and Queenstown have shared a long-standing sister city relationship, first founded in 1992, with a history of useful business and educational exchanges over the years. “We became sister cities so we could learn from each other’s experiences managing vibrant and popular destination towns,” Glyn said.“In fact, a QLDC visit to Aspen played a role in the formation of the Queenstown Lakes Community Housing Trust in 2007.”He said the two areas share many common challenges, from housing affordability to “ensuring that the visitor economy is one that is sustainable and regenerative”. The delegation from Aspen includes its mayor, city manager and the president and CEO of the Aspen Chamber Resort Association.They will be hosted by Destination Queenstown and Queenstown Business Chamber of Commerce as well as QLDC.During their time in Queenstown, the delegation is participating in a business lunch featuring a panel discussion with both mayors. The lunch is being hosted by the Queenstown Chamber and facilitated by Christine Sharp, the CEO of the New Zealand branch of the Aspen Institute.“There are a few busy days ahead for everyone involved,” Glyn said.The last visit was in November 2017 when Aspen Mayor Steve Skadron visited with a focus on housing, transport and climate change.PHOTO: QLDC

Pushback expected over public transport proposal
Pushback expected over public transport proposal

10 April 2024, 5:06 PM

Otago Regional Council (ORC) is proposing that Upper Clutha residents subsidise public transport for the Whakatipu region.Public transport (PT) has previously been paid for by targeting ratepayers in the areas that benefit from it, but ORC’s proposals would include Upper Clutha ratepayers in the targeted rate, despite the proposal not including any PT in Wānaka.“It is incongruent that Wānaka and the Upper Clutha are being asked to contribute to PT through ORC rates when we have no PT services provided for us,” Queenstown Lakes District deputy mayor Quentin Smith told the Wānaka App.“This is nothing more than an attempt to spread the cost base of PT over a greater number of ratepayers even if the service isn’t available.”ORC Dunstan councillor Alexa Forbers told the Wānaka App she expects “strong pushback from Wānaka” over the proposal, and her personal view is that Upper Clutha residents should not be contributing in the same quantum as those in Queenstown. ORC Dunstan councillor Alexa Forbes PHOTO: SuppliedHowever, she pointed out that buses are not fully funded by the fares people pay (they are mostly funded by a 51 percent government contribution and local and regional rates), which means those who use buses pay the most because they pay tax, rates and the fare.“We agreed as a council that the benefits of public transport extend beyond the network boundaries that are served by the service,” she said. “For example, keeping Queenstown moving has benefits for the entire district and we know through modelling that Queenstown will come to a standstill without effective PT. PT plays a huge role in reducing emissions which benefits everyone. Those in the wider district regularly visit Queenstown and we need them to be using PT. “The question raised, she said, is: “Why would Wānaka, Glenorchy, Kingston, Albert Town, Hāwea and Luggate want to pay an equal amount towards a bus service that isn’t always useful or available to them?”“This is particularly galling when all of these areas would love their own bus service.”Recent public transport trials identified demand for a service between Wānaka and Hāwea. PHOTO: Wānaka AppQuentin (who is also a member of the Public and Active Travel Advisory Group, a joint forum of ORC and QLDC) said the recent Community Shuttle Trial, organised by Community Networks, demonstrated demand for a PT service between Wānaka and Hāwea.“PT would be fantastic for the Upper Clutha, and even more so in time, but it does come at a significant cost, not one that we should be burdened with without access to the services,” he said, adding that ORC should only bring Wānaka into the target rate when services are proposed in the Upper Clutha.“We are unfortunately many years away from a widespread and regular PT service in the Upper Clutha,” he said. “I expect the community will push back hard against the ORC targeted rate proposal.”Alexa said the next step was for people to provide feedback on the consultation document.“If people agree with the principle of benefit extending beyond network boundaries, they may suggest that a lesser amount be contributed by those areas, or they may oppose the suggestion entirely, or they might have a better idea. We want to hear these through the many feedback channels available,” she said.She is also keen to hear about what people think about financing PT with a uniform charge. This would mean everyone in this district would pay the same targeted and general rate of $136 in the first year, for example a household in Makarora and a large hotel in Queenstown would pay the same.  “There are other ways of doing this… such as charging based on capital value or land value meaning the higher-value properties would pay more reflecting the value the PT service offers to tourists.“If nothing else, I hope this issue raises engagement with the plan and encourages people to consider things like the large-scale environmental fund.”ORC transport manager Lorraine Cheyne said consultation will take place in April/May and other feedback will begin in the 2024/25 financial year. “Our LTP plans were made and approved by council before the current Coalition Government set out its transport investment policies in the new Government Policy Statement (GPS), March 2024. The new GPS has a lower priority for PT investment which carries some risk for new PT trials anywhere in the country.”Find more information in the ORC Long Term Plan.

Crimeline: Winter’s coming, dial up your risk assessment
Crimeline: Winter’s coming, dial up your risk assessment

10 April 2024, 5:04 PM

Wānaka’s festival season is drawing to an end and colder weather is heralding winter, bringing a change to police work, says Wānaka Police’s new senior sergeant Fiona (Fi) Roberts.Uncommon sense in the hillsFi said police have been dealing with the consequences of the change in weather, including a search and rescue (SAR) job up the Wilkin Valley on Tuesday (April 9) evening.“A couple of tourists it would appear did not use common sense, despite knowing a weather system was coming through,” she said.“It appears common sense sometimes isn't all that common.”She advised people to ensure they have sufficient bushcraft for their location, do some research, and “have an exit strategy; carry a beacon”.The tourists were caught out and spent “an incredibly uncomfortable night” in the valley. Attempts to get them out on Tuesday evening were not successful but the pair were assisted out on Wednesday morning by helicopter.“We’ve enjoyed some amazing weather,” Fi said. “That has stopped. So pack your raincoat, listen to the weather forecast. “I’m not Jim Hickey but the weather’s not going away in the next couple of days; it’s getting worse.”Fi said caution should also be applied to driving, particularly around alpine passes such as the Lindis and Crown Range, and the Haast Pass.“Be careful what’s on the road; if you’re coming around the corner expect there to be debris. If you’re travelling anywhere, pack another hour or two into your day. Pack a thermos. If you’re running late it creates pressure to make poor decisions ”Road accidentFi said the Wānaka police team attended a nasty accident around Haast overnight on Friday (April 5) between a car and two motorcycles.Two people were helicoptered to hospital with serious injuries, she said.“Slow down, have your risk assessment dialled in well.“When we do have a motor vehicle accident here it’s usually on the open road and it's usually going to be ugly. It’s going to push people into other areas and lead to delays.”Fiona said people could consider what they have in their car to make their trip more comfortable, because around here delays and road closures can mean “we’re not asking you to go around the block, we’re asking you to go round half the country”.With school holidays approaching Fi also asked people to plan ahead, be tolerant, and look out for children.Macpherson Street is ‘not a racetrack’Fi said roadworks around town have resulted in people being re-routed and taking short cuts, one of which has been Macpherson Street (between Ballantyne Road and SH84). Residents have reported speeding and poor driving and are “really upset about it”.“People are annoyed about the lack of compliance of 40kph. It’s not a racetrack.”Both police and Queenstown Lakes District Council are now involved in finding solutions.Well behaved festival seasonFestival season is “just about over” and Fi congratulated people on their behaviour at the various events. “It’s been really good,” she said.Aspiring Conversations attracted a peaceful protest on Saturday and two police officers were present but there were no issues arising from it, Fi said. Lost property processWānaka is an exceptional and honest community which returns a high volume of lost property, including wallets with cash, Fiona said.When people leave things in the dropbox outside the station “it would be really helpful if there was a note saying where you found it and who you are”, she said, as sometimes people want to thank the person who returned their property. 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

Soho Basin plans submitted to council
Soho Basin plans submitted to council

10 April 2024, 5:00 PM

Plans for new ski trails in the Soho Basin will require modification of more than eight hectares of land but Cardrona Alpine Resort’s parent company RealNZ says it has worked hard to reduce the environmental impact of the project.The Wānaka ski field has submitted a series of resource consent applications for earthworks and indigenous vegetation clearance to establish ski trails, snow making infrastructure and a water storage dam within the ecologically significant basin.“Alongside key authorities, ecologists and herpetologists, we have undertaken a lot of work to understand the environmental impact of the Soho project – our goal is minimal damage to the environment and habitat,” Cardrona general manager Laura Hedley told the Wānaka App. “We have taken this into consideration when designing the ski trails and infrastructure, which has added a lot of complexity to the project, and we are confident that our plans will achieve this goal.”A new chairlift for the Soho Basin was approved by Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) last year and it is scheduled to be open for skiers and snowboarders in time for winter 2025, substantially expanding the skifield’s lift-accessible terrain, but it still needs to secure consent for snowmaking infrastructure and ski runs. Application documents submitted by RealNZ say the route selection proposed avoids “as much as possible any adverse effects on any particularly sensitive or high value receiving environments, such as wetlands, cushionfield, fellfield and lizard habitat”.Significant work adjusting the design (with the help of an ecologist and herpetologist) has sought to utilise existing roads and tracks as much as possible to “have the least environmental impact”.RealNZ said the snowmaking infrastructure and groomed runs need to be established in order for users of the chairlift to have skiable terrain available for the expected opening date in 2025.Cardrona announced the acquisition of the ski area rights for Soho Basin in 2018. Soho Basin faces Queenstown and covers all the southern and south-west faces of Mt Cardrona. Plans for the installation of a chairlift in the Pringles area within the Soho Basin were abandoned when rare lizards were discovered in the area in 2020.The site for the chairlift was changed and it later became the Willows Quad, in the adjoining Willows Basin, which opened up lift access to 65ha of terrain.The other consented chairlift, Soho Basin Express, is expected to create lift access to another 150ha of the Soho Basin’s 500ha of terrain.The Soho Basin is in the Ski Area Subzone within QLDC’s Proposed District Plan.As well as requiring consents from QLDC, Cardrona Alpine will also require approval from Otago Regional Council. QLDC is currently considering Cardrona Alpine Resort’s applications.PHOTO: Supplied

Paradiso changes hands
Paradiso changes hands

09 April 2024, 5:04 PM

When Wānaka’s world-famous Cinema Paradiso was established 30 years ago, the town had three pubs and not much other indoor entertainment.So remembers the outgoing (in more ways than one) Paradiso owner Calum MacLeod in conversation on the The Outlet Podcast this week.Calum and his wife Andrea Riley, who set up Cinema Paradiso with Brian Hildreth in 1994, have now sold the cinema to Carolyn Whitaker and Hamish Menlove.Calum said going to the movies in early 90s Wānaka involved driving up to two hours’ across the gravel Crown Range, spending a “small fortune” eating out, and driving back.He wondered if a cinema “could maybe work here”, and the old town hall (then on Ardmore Street) had a projection booth on the end. It was a “cracking space”, Calum said, and it was boiling in summer and freezing in winter.“The screen came down and then every weekend … we hoisted it up to the ceiling and cleared the hall out,” Calum said.The rest is an entertaining and eventful history of Cinema Paradiso.“From there the seed was born and there's some fantastic stories that came out of that old town hall before council, in its infinite wisdom, decided to knock it down.” Those early days were community focused and Calum said the police sergeant at the time described the cinema as the best thing that had ever happened for young Wānaka people.The two opening weekend movies were Drop Zone and Legends of the Fall.The old town hall’s “hard ass” motivated Calum and Andrea to purchase some second-hand couches, but after people began fighting over them they bought enough comfortable chairs and sofas to accommodate their maximum audience of 50.“That meant that every time that we cleared the hall, we had to put all the couches and seats on the stage. So it was a Jane Fonda workout every weekend trying to get the food up and running. It was good times, really good times.”The cinema has moved site a couple of times: after the old town hall it shifted across to the old Central Electric Power Board building, (now Bottle-O). They built tiered seating and the business went from weekends to five days a week.“Thankfully [we] didn't have to lift the couches onto a stage every night and [we] operated there for 14 years,” Calum said. More recently it moved to its current site at the former Catholic Church of Our Lady of Fatima on Brownston Street, after a bit of redesigning and the addition of tiered seating, insulation, and sound dampening. The cinema expanded to two screens in 2019.Paradiso’s controversial intermissions were, Calum said, “a great way to generate an extra maybe a couple of dollars”. In the early days the intermission was a social occasion, but even after the move to Brownston Street punters wanted to keep the intermission - and the sofas.Andrea and Callum with their trademark half-time cookies.“So we kept the intermission and thank goodness we did because I think it's part of the experience. And if you look at Bollywood, which is a much bigger beast than Hollywood, it's all based around the intermission and eating and they approach it in a different way and it is a social occasion.”As for the “grunge” factor, Calum said most people loved it.“It's like going round to your mate's place to watch something, but it's a superb quality sound system and good projection gear. And … you can feel relaxed from the off.”Of the many highlights from the past 30 years, Calum recalled when dogs were allowed in the cinema (in town hall days). A Jack Russell called Baz was a regular cinema goer who would clean out the ice cream cartons on the floor when people had finished with them.  “So we were screening a film called Scream, the original Scream horror slash thing. And in the middle of this Baz licked this poor woman's leg. She hit the roof - off like the 4th of July. The whole place erupted … and it was just a poetic moment in terms of cinema.”On another occasion the chairman of the American Academy of Motion Pictures and Performing Arts came along to watch a film and left his card.“...On the back he'd handwritten ‘your fame has spread far and wide, keep up the good work’. I mean, this is the Scotsman in the back of the Wānaka, you know, you couldn't get further from anywhere on the planet and here he is going, ‘keep up the good work’.”Calum also recalled a young man coming in to see him, saying his parents had taken him to the cinema when he was one. They had told him when he went back to Wānaka he had to visit Paradiso and say hello to Calum. “I hugged him like a brother. And we had a couple of beers… When it sticks in their memory enough to send their son, you get that visitation back, that connection, that emphasis. It's gold. I can't think of any other industry that would have that sort of impact and that sort of feel that transcends 20 years.”His and Andrea’s decision to sell the cinema was “massive”, Calum said.“Thirty years is a long time doing anything. But … you find something you love doing, you'll never work another day in your life. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing and setting it up and all the changes.“It was incredibly hard, but it's time. It's just the right time.” Calum said his family was pleased to sell to another local family. “Hamish and Carolyn are really good people. I've been, as part of the handover, working and their kids are in there. And it's the same as when we started.“They'll be setting new memories and hopefully continuing the legacy… I like to think of it as a wee iconic bit of Wānaka that will hopefully stick around. It’s not necessarily just another place that's got beautiful vistas and whatever we've got around New Zealand. It's just that little point of difference which would be nice to see it carry on.”PHOTOS: Wānaka App

Veteran alpinist to headline festival
Veteran alpinist to headline festival

09 April 2024, 5:00 PM

A mix of global and local adventurers will recount stories from their expeditions in some of the world’s most remote locations at the upcoming NZ Mountain Film and Book Festival (NZMFF).Organisers have released the first speaker lineup for the festival (in Wānaka from June 21-25) which will be headlined by Italian mountaineer Simone Moro.“Simone is one of the most accomplished mountaineers ever to visit our region and we’re delighted that he’ll be joining us for talks in both Wānaka and Queenstown,” NZMFF festival director Mark Sedon said.A veteran of 15 winter expeditions, Simone is the only alpinist to have completed four 8,000m ascents in winter, on Shisha Pangma (8027m) in 2005, Makalu (8485m) in 2009, Gasherbrum II (8035m) in 2011 and Nanga Parbat (8126m) in 2016.  In 2001, he abandoned his Everest-Lhotse Traverse attempt to save an English climber, enduring horrific conditions in darkness, on his own with an extremely high risk of avalanche and without supplementary oxygen.Simone was also the first European helicopter pilot qualified to fly in Nepal and has completed numerous rescue operations, including the highest long-line rescue at 7,800m on Everest in 2013.Other speakers include accomplished field guide, naturalist, photographer, and documentary filmmaker Frederique Olivier (Australia), who will speak about her exploration of the polar regions, and New Zealand whitewater kayaker and adventurer Shannon Mast, who has ventured to some of the most remote and challenging waterways on the planet. The festival will also feature New Zealand whitewater kayaker and adventurer Shannon Mast (pictured), as well as Guy Cotter, Frederique Olivier and more.Renowned New Zealand climber and longtime friend of the festival Guy Cotter will join the panel of speakers at the NZ Mountain Book Festival to speak about his recently published book, Everest Mountain Guide, a behind-the-scenes insight into his three-decade-plus career.More speakers will be announced in the coming weeks, Mark said.Meanwhile, the deadline for entering films in the film competition is fast approaching on April 20.“I'm especially excited to see what Kiwi filmmakers come up with this year,” Mark said. “The level just keeps stepping up and up each year.”PHOTOS: Supplied

QLDC approves 19 metre high ‘Aspiring House’
QLDC approves 19 metre high ‘Aspiring House’

09 April 2024, 1:54 AM

A 19.5 metre tall commercial building has been approved by Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) for the corner of Sir Tim Wallis Drive and Deering Street in Three Parks. Wānaka property investment company Roa said the four-storey mixed use commercial building (designed by architects Warren and Mahoney) will have street level retail and upper-level office space. QLDC’s assessment noted the building exceeds the 12-metre maximum building height for Wānaka under the Proposed District Plan, however, it considered non-compliance was justified. “Various forms and materials on each level reduce bulk, minimising dominance effects. Strategic glazing on upper levels lightens visual impact, and as a corner site, the taller building integrates well with the surroundings,” the assessment said.Aspiring House will be located on the corner of Sir Tim Wallis Drive and Deering Street.“The additional height not only aids in easy location, but also contributes to the development’s status as a key landmark, providing visual interest and enriching the overall character of the environment.”Roa CEO Mike Saegers said approval for Aspiring House was “an important step forward for the development of internationally benchmarked green commercial buildings in Wānaka”.“The additional height enables projects employing mass timber and other forms of carbon conscious construction methodologies to be commercially feasible, given Wanaka’s climatic and seismic building design requirements,” he said. Aspiring House is billed as the first stage of a new, mixed use commercial district for Three Parks.The International Future Living Institute Zero Carbon Certification standard requires a project to have net zero emissions from both operational and embodied carbon.If achieved at Aspiring House, it would be a first for the Southern Hemisphere.“We have ambitious plans for our healthcare district at Three Parks, using the same sustainable construction methodologies and similar building heights,” Mike said.The Wānaka App sought more information about Roa’s plans for a “healthcare district”, and a spokesperson said the company “has significant plans for a health district at Three Parks, across the road from where Aspiring House will be situated and expects to be able to share more information about it in the near future”. IMAGE: Supplied

Opinion: Project Manawa wrangle
Opinion: Project Manawa wrangle

08 April 2024, 10:56 PM

Queenstown Lakes District councillors succeeded in slowing down the Project Manawa juggernaut on Thursday but chose not to overturn it.The project to create a “beating community heart” in downtown Queenstown had morphed from cultural and community facilities into a council office for 600 staff. Allegedly requiring the sale of much of the dual block Stanley Street reserves and a vaguely defined JV with Ngāi Tahu Properties that meant we'd lose control over the build and have to pay NTP rent for ever.After receiving 288 pages of submissions and hearing 27 submitters – nearly all in opposition – hearing panel councillors Cocks, White and Ferguson recommended halting the build to first investigate other sites.But somewhere en route to council’s agenda, their investigation’s scope was seriously reduced. Panel chair Lyal Cocks, taking part by zoom from his car, acknowledged there had been various iterations from staff since the panel’s original report.The resultant recommendation was for a very limited update of information on the Stanley Street site, to compare “with similar information for an alternative site”. Councillors instead unanimously voted for Cr Gavin Bartlett’s amendment, reverting to the panel’s original, broader investigation – of different sites.Three council-owned Frankton Flats sites raised by submitters – none of which had been identified by Project Manawa’s staff team – would be cheaper, more central and without JV or freeholding complications. Persistent questioning by Cr Bartlett finally saw council CEO Mike Theelen admit that neither JV nor community reserve sell-offs were a project prerequisite, as already pointed out by several submitters.Crs Niki Gladding and Esther Whitehead called for greater detail on land swap costs, JV terms, and implications before committing to either, saying it would be irresponsible to commit future councils to proposals and costs they knew little about. They failed to gain support.Mayor Glyn Lewers used his casting vote to push through the huge land exchange proposal that would freehold about half the reserve, allowing 14m high commercial buildings enveloping stairs, retail alleys and one small “plaza” – the total public open space proposed. Crs Bartlett, Gladding, Smith, Tucker, Whitehead and Wong voted against.Councillors put a temporary hold on the JV partnership with NTP, but left it as a future possibility, subject to Theelen’s review.There is no money in draft council budgets for the office building for at least seven years. None at all for community facilities. And no guarantee money made from flogging the reserves will be used for these purposes.Cr Cody Tucker summarised many submitters’ views, saying Project Manawa was overly managed towards a predetermined conclusion, nullifying the point of consultation and aggravating already low community trust in council.And Upper Clutha residents, who would still have to drive three hours to speak at public forum for three minutes, would be asked to pay for another Queenstown-centric, open-ended JV when council had not to date proven capable of managing such.Cr Quentin Smith also spoke strongly against Project Manawa. Cr Barry Bruce made no comments.Our councillors have pushed to ensure proper analysis of alternative sites. Now let’s see that council staff do so.Disclaimer: Cath Glimour submitted against the Project Manawa proposal.

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