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Increase to international visitor levy proposed
Increase to international visitor levy proposed

25 May 2024, 5:04 PM

Tourists are returning and it’s time to have a fresh look at the international visitor levy (IVL), says the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE). Members of the public have two more weeks to weigh in on whether or not the IVL, a $35 fee most international visitors pay on arrival into New Zealand, should be increased.The IVL was established in 2019 to help visitors more fairly contribute towards the services they use in New Zealand and to support sustainable tourism.“Five years on from its introduction, it is time to review the $35 amount,” MBIE said in a statement. “....visitor numbers are returning and the government wants to ensure the levy is set at an amount which adequately contributes towards the places and services visitors use in New Zealand.”The government believes too many costs imposed by international visitors are paid by taxpayers and ratepayers, MBIE said.At 2019 visitor volumes, the $35 IVL raises around $80 million per year yet some estimations calculated that the unfunded costs of international visitors were around $250 million in the same year.Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) has tried, unsuccessfully so far, to implement its own district-wide visitor levy in the form of a bed tax.More than 80 percent of Queenstown voters supported a visitor levy to support infrastructure in a non-binding 2019 referendum but it hasn’t received the government support it needs to be implemented.Four different IVL options are being proposed nationally: the IVL remains at $35; increasing it by $15 to $50; increasing it by $35 to $70; and increasing it by $65 to $100. The IVL funding is split across tourism and conservation.The government is also seeking public feedback on which projects within those two areas should receive funding. Members of the public have until June 11 to have their say via an online survey or submission.PHOTO: Wānaka App

Gymsports regional event a ‘great success’
Gymsports regional event a ‘great success’

24 May 2024, 5:04 PM

Hot water bottles and rugs were part of the scene at Wānaka’s first Gymnastics NZ sanctioned competition, held last weekend at Paetara Aspiring Central.One hundred and thirty competitors from Christchurch, Oamaru, Dunedin, Balclutha, Invercargill, Queenstown and Wānaka took part in the six-session event on Saturday and Sunday (May 18-19), with approximately 200 spectators, officials, volunteers and gymnasts at each session.The Paetara Aspiring Central venue is the only venue south of Christchurch which is permanently set up with a full set of men’s and women’s gymnastic equipment under one roof. Aspiring Gymsports club founder Rae Paterson told the Wānaka App that despite it being chilly indoors, the venue was “well received” by the visitors.“On the whole it was a great success,” Rae said. Wānaka gymnast Marshall Watson (on rings) placed first overall in level three.“Aspiring Gymsports and Queenstown gymnasts and families were so appreciative of having one competition close to home which didn’t involve seven to ten hours of return travel and an overnight stay.”She said the event was “a great opportunity” for the club committee to see things worked and to plan ahead for holding the Southern regional champs for the first time in 2025 (which will feature more than 250 gymnasts).Local gymnasts on the podium included Marshall Watson, who placed first overall in level three. Marshall was first in floor, second in pommel, second in vault, first in parallel bars, and first in horizontal bar. Dean Coll placed third overall: he was second in floor, third in pommel, first in rings, first in vault, and third in horizontal bar. In level four, Charlie Nisbet placed first in parallel bars. For step one, the team of Indygo Dawn, Lucienne Reid, Lily Taylor-Ede, Krystal Coll and Siena Dowsett placed third overall (with Lily third in beam and Siena second in bar). For step two, Emilia Wick placed third in floor; and Harper Julius second in vault and second in bar. For step three Jorja Steel came third in vault.  For step four, Keira Lam came third in bar and first in vault. She achieved one of the highest scores of the competition in vault: 14.40 out of a possible 15.00. For step five, Mea Allison and Lara Beams (in a combined team with Queenstown and Invercargill) placed second overall. For step six, Sami Reid placed third overall and also second overall in a combined team with Queenstown, Dunedin and Oamaru.Rae said Aspiring Gymsports was grateful to Queenstown Lakes District Council and Kahu Youth for allowing the use of the foyer space and clubrooms for prize giving and a judges’ lounge. “Mike Greer Homes sponsored $500 and Warehouse Wānaka sponsored $200 towards supporting our canteen and looking after judges and volunteers who manned stations all weekend covering, door entry, cooking and baking for the canteen, announcing, score recording and moving equipment,” she said.PHOTOS: Supplied

‘Significant milestone’: Mt Iron roundabout completed
‘Significant milestone’: Mt Iron roundabout completed

24 May 2024, 5:00 PM

Construction is now complete on the five-leg roundabout at the intersection of SH84 and SH6 near Mt Iron. The Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) project has led to significant safety and accessibility improvements for one of Wānaka’s busiest highway intersections. Work started on the $7M roundabout project in early 2023 and the roundabout fully opened to traffic in late March 2024. The finishing touches to the job are now complete and drivers can navigate the intersection smoothly and safely, NZTA said.“This marks a significant milestone for Wānaka’s transportation infrastructure, reducing the likelihood of crashes and improving traffic flows for both locals and visitors,” the transport agency said. An artist’s impression of the view of McDonald’s looking south from the Mt Iron summit. “Prior to the roundabout being built, turning out of Riverbank Road or from the Albert Town-Lake Hāwea Road onto SH84 or SH6 to Wānaka and Cromwell was challenging and has resulted in multiple crashes in recent years. “This intersection is now safer and fit for the projected increase in traffic from nearby commercial and residential developments.”A fifth leg on the roundabout has been built to give access into a future subdivision development by Mt Iron Junction Ltd.  Read more: Mt Iron Junction development contingent on roundaboutThe subdivision has plans for a vehicle service station, residential dwellings, and possibly a MacDonald’s fast food restaurant after the fast food giant submitted a resource consent application last November. The application is still under consideration.Read more: Bid for Wānaka McDonald’s resumesThe new Mt Iron roundabout features median islands on the approaching legs to encourage reduced vehicle speeds, safer crossing islands for pedestrians and cyclists, an improved stormwater system and street lighting. IMAGES: Supplied

Mayors call for urgent improvements to public health care
Mayors call for urgent improvements to public health care

24 May 2024, 1:33 AM

Queenstown Lakes mayor Glyn Lewers and Central Otago mayor Tim Cadogan have jointly written to New Zealand’s primary health agency to advocate for health services for inland Otago. The mayors’ letter is in response to Te Whatu Ora’s draft Te Waipounamu Health and Wellbeing Plan.The three-year strategy for healthcare in the South Island is planned to come into effect from July and Glyn and Tim say it needs to “urgently address” inland Otago’s inadequate access to public health care.The mayors referenced a long-standing lack of investment in local provision of publicly funded health services, infrastructure, and workforce to meet the districts’ health needs.“Despite our councils regularly advocating to government for better public health care, we’re yet to see sufficient progress on expanding services, or more flexibility on engaging with communities and the private sector to support the development of local solutions,” Tim said.Glyn said it is disappointing that Queenstown Lakes and Central Otago are still waiting for access to adequate public local healthcare.“Concerningly, 70 percent of the people in Aotearoa New Zealand who live two hours or more from a base hospital live in inland Otago. And that’s only counting residents,” he said.“With facilities several hours drive away it’s not something we can afford to wait any longer for — we’re simply growing too fast.”The need for increased health services has been gaining traction recently and a public meeting in Wānaka in March brought together elected representatives, health officials and residents to discuss the local health access challenges.Read more: Community sends resounding message to health officialsCurrently, Queenstown Lakes and Central Otago’s combined resident-only population is 79,000, which is similar in size to Palmerston North. Visitors to the region increase the population, and need, substantially.Queenstown Lakes has been the fastest growing area in New Zealand for many years and has had a population increase of eight percent in the last year alone; Central Otago is the third fastest-growing region. “I applaud the essential services and outstanding frontline staff Te Whatu Ora currently delivers for inland Otago communities, and that the agency is working with limited funds and capacity, but our communities can and should expect better,” Glyn said.Glyn and Tim have invited the Minister of Health to lend support and for Te Whatu Ora to look for innovative and collaboratively delivered solutions that address the needs of the fastest growing area of the country.The mayors will continue to meet regularly with community leaders and local MPs to jointly progress inland Otago’s growing health needs, they said.Read more: MP working on health proposalHealth group lobbies for after-hours ‘stop gap’ measureTe Whatu Ora was approached for comment.PHOTOS: Supplied

‘Quick wins’ for local parks as budget shrinks
‘Quick wins’ for local parks as budget shrinks

23 May 2024, 5:06 PM

Projects including trail resurfacing on the Millenium Track, a new playground for Hāwea, lighting for the A&P Showgrounds are in the works for the Upper Clutha.Staff from Queenstown Lakes District Council’s (QLDC) parks team discussed recently completed projects, its upcoming work programme and some ‘blue sky’ ideas with the Wānaka Upper Clutha Community Board (WUCCB) in a workshop yesterday (Thursday May 23). QLDC parks manager David Winterburn told the board many of the projects were subject to the Long Term Plan, which won’t be confirmed until September 19, and he said the workshop was designed to help identify priorities with a limited budget.The “constrained financial environment” meant the next few years would focus mostly on minor improvements and “quick wins,” he said.They will still include progress on Wānaka’s Lakefront Development Plan (with work on stage five set to begin shortly), completion of the Mt Iron Reserve Management Plan, plus “taking opportunities for small improvements where budget allows”.As well as a playground, Hāwea is set to get “a whole lot of toilets”; both the Millenium Track (between Waterfall Creek and Ironside Hill) and the Albert Town River Trail (between Gunn Road and Fisherman’s Access) would be resurfaced and the trails widened to 2.5m; and upgraded lighting at the A&P Showgrounds is due to be installed next month.In the past few months a long list of projects had been completed, including a shared pathway along the base of Mt Iron, a new toilet at Northlake, hedge removal at the A&P Showgrounds, Luggate playground’s opening, and perimeter fencing at the Wānaka Cemetery. David said there wouldn’t be a lot of money for “big projects” in the near future but the team was finding “quick wins” where it could.One of those quick wins currently being undertaken is vegetation thinning at stage four of the LDP (Wānaka's town centre foreshore area), and David said the parks team is also getting quotes for the design of a widened and extended shared pathway. Possible future projects, which David emphasised were “just ideas”, included a “high profile cycling trail opportunity”, lights at the Wānaka Skate Park, a ‘stage six’ to the LDP near the rowing club carpark, and the implementation of the Lismore Park and Peninsula Bay development plans.Board members discussed a range of options before WUCCB chair Simon Telfer asked David to do more detailed work on understanding existing plans and coming back to the board with three tiers of priorities “so we aren’t always just chasing the new shiny thing”. “Let’s face it; there’s probably going to be only a handful of things that are going to be able to be done,” he said.David said the reduced parks project plan was the result of the costs associated with Three Waters, which meant many community strategic priorities had been deferred.“That is mirrored over in Wakatipu,” he said.PHOTO: Wānaka App

StoryWalks extend libraries’ reach
StoryWalks extend libraries’ reach

23 May 2024, 5:04 PM

The Upper Clutha’s first ‘StoryWalk’ has been installed next to the new Luggate playground.StoryWalks create outdoor literacy experiences for children by mounting pages of illustrated children’s books in a large format along a walking route or area frequented by children.The Luggate playground now features a StoryWalk of The Little Yellow Digger Finds Treasure by Betty Gilderdale, which was installed just in time for the playground’s recent opening.It’s the second StoryWalk for Queenstown Lakes and the first for the Wānaka ward, and part of a project series that has been in the making for a while, QLDC community engagement librarian Paula Mitchell told the Wānaka App.“It’s an idea our libraries have had for a long time, after catching wind of similar projects overseas,” she said.StoryWalks have existed for a long time but the international initiative became especially popular during Covid-19.Their unique set-up allows children to enjoy reading with their families and friends while being in the outdoors and it extends libraries’ reach beyond their physical walls, connecting to the community and contributing a host of wellbeing benefits, Paula said.She said the author for the Luggate project was selected on the basis of requests and feedback from the community.“The [QLDC] Libraries team tries to match up the stories with what kids like,” she said.“We try to use New Zealand authors and are lucky enough to partner with Scholastic who provide permission to use the stories in this way.”The QLDC Libraries team also tries to focus on New Zealand authors, Paula said.Queenstown Lakes’ other StoryWalk is located at the Hanley’s Farm development near Queenstown and there is also a mobile ‘pop-up’ version that travels to parks and playgrounds around the district, Paula said.The bulk of the cost of the Luggate StoryWalk was covered by Te Hau Toka – Southern Lakes Wellbeing Group with additional support from Bunnings Warehouse Queenstown and Mitre 10 Mega Wānaka.Paula said the libraries team doesn’t have any more StoryWalks in the works “but we’d love to inspire the community to set up their own”. “We now have a blueprint to create them along with the connections with publishers and authors,” she said.Anyone wanting to create a StoryWalk can get in touch with Paula Mitchell via the Wānaka Library.PHOTO: Wānaka App

‘WānaSoup’ supported by last Connecting Communities round
‘WānaSoup’ supported by last Connecting Communities round

23 May 2024, 5:00 PM

Te Hau Toka Southern Lakes Wellbeing Group’s Connecting Communities fund has gone out with a ‘bang’, granting a record $100,000 towards community-led wellbeing activities and events set to take place in the next few months. The eighth and final funding round was spread across 117 groups, each receiving up to $1,000 to facilitate activities that help people connect, look after themselves and each other, and have some fun.  Recipients included Community Networks/LINK, which received support for ‘WānaSoup’, a new ‘winter warmer’ initiative at the Wānaka Community Hub which will run every Wednesday lunchtime (11am-2pm) from June 5 to August 28.  “WānaSoup will provide a great opportunity to get together and strengthen our sense of community over the winter months,” Community Networks/LINK manager Kate Murray said.“Volunteers from St Columba Anglican Church and others will prepare and serve different soups and anyone in the community who wants to come will be offered a warm welcome, a cup of hot soup and the chance to make new friends over table talk and games.”Since launching the Connecting Communities fund in November 2021 as part of its efforts to combat the ongoing mental health impacts of Covid-19, Te Hau Toka has distributed more than half a million dollars to 556 groups across Queenstown, Wānaka, Cromwell, and Te Anau/Fiordland. “Seeing the positivity Connecting Communities has generated in the face of adversity, how much our Southern Lakes communities care about each other, and their innovative ideas to combat local mental health and wellbeing challenges, has been incredibly inspiring and rewarding,” Te Hau Toka chair Adell Cox said.“We’ve worked on a range of initiatives with community partners and our independent evaluation, which will be released next month, shows that the Connecting Communities has been one of the most successful.”A record number of applications was received for round eight and Te Hau Toka focused on spreading its remaining funding as widely as possible. Other local recipients included Kahu Youth, for its Matariki celebration; Volunteer South, to hold an event matching up prospective volunteers and organisations; and M!NT Charitable Trust, for its mid-winter community ball, among others. PHOTO: Supplied

Crimeline: Drink driving, road safety and youth initiatives
Crimeline: Drink driving, road safety and youth initiatives

22 May 2024, 5:04 PM

Five people were caught drink driving over the weekend in the Upper Clutha, Wānaka Police senior sergeant Fiona (Fi) Roberts said. A breath alcohol reading of more than 400 micrograms per litre (mcg) leads to a criminal charge and Fi said three of the cases had a reading of “around 400” and the two others were at “around 700”.“A lot of people are around that 400mcg mark,” Fi said. “People are taking a risk - and they are getting caught out.”The police’s Impairment Prevention Team (IPT) will be back in Wānaka this week, she said. Road policing Road policing is a constant for the Wānaka Police team and drivers should be especially aware of, and responsive to, conditions in winter.“We are always getting new complaints about bad driving,” Fi said, noting that many were on the Crown Range Road. “Yesterday I was called to a driver overtaking on double lines between Wānaka and Cromwell,” she said.She asked residents to “ring it in” if they witness dangerous driving. If it is safe to do so, it is also useful if passengers can record the driving so if the driver is prosecuted and it is challenged, police have proof of driver behaviour.Drone call-outsFi said Wānaka Police were contacted after “a couple of drones” were spotted flying around the Wānaka CBD.“It was called in because it was near helicopter pads,” she said.Drone users should be aware of the rules. Youth engagementFi said acting sergeant Kiriana Flannery and constable Whetu Campbell joined the ‘Pulse’ programme run by Kahu Youth Trust last week. Te Kura O Tititea Mount Aspiring College (MAC) students were invited to participate in ‘cognitive conditioning’ scenarios.Cognitive conditioning combines sports science, cognitive neuroscience and sports psychology to give officers a toolkit that allows them to thrive in high-stress frontline situations, Fi said.In another youth initiative Kiriana, Whetu and constable Shaun McClintock joined Civil Defence to facilitate ‘Clued Up kids’ - a nationwide programme run by Civil Defence where year 6 students learn how to handle various emergencies in an interactive way. Approximately 200 year 6 students from the Upper Clutha got the “shake down” on what to do in emergency situations.Awards for police partnersFi extended her congratulations to Coastguard Wānaka Lakes president Jonathan Walmisley for the ‘Certificate of achievement – support activity’ award he received at the NZ Search and Rescue annual awards.“Coastguard is one of our key partners, working with LandSAR to keep people safe on the lakes,” Fi said. “He runs a great team and it is really well deserved.”She also congratulated former Wānaka police officer Aaron Nicholson, who travelled to Wellington for the ceremony after he was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the New Year Honours list.Aaron earned the appointment for his several decades with SAR.“The service he contributes to LandSAR is just amazing,” Fi said. 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

Home-based care provider eyes up district
Home-based care provider eyes up district

22 May 2024, 5:00 PM

An early learning provider is trying to answer the call from young families who are desperately searching for childcare options.A shortage of childcare availability across Queenstown Lakes and Central Otago has prompted Barnardos Early Learning to seek people in the community who might be interested in becoming an in-home provider.Barnardos Early Learning service delivery manager Rebecca Chatwin said the not-for-profit organisation’s priority has been to expand its home-based network.The service provides care for up to four tamariki in a familiar home environment, allowing for smaller groups and an individualised approach.Barnardos is recruiting new home based educators in Wānaka, Hāwea and Queenstown, as well as Roxburgh, Clyde and Alexandra.Rebecca was hopeful there could eventually be someone in each of those towns.“While having educators in every town might not be immediately achievable, it’s definitely our long-term vision. By actively recruiting and expanding our network, we aim to provide whānau in all Central Otago communities with access to early learning options, regardless of their location.”The move comes following a shortage of availability at many of the district’s early childhood centres.Barnardos has hosted information sessions for potential home based educators in Wānaka and Alexandra over recent weeks, and the response has been positive, Rebecca said.“Several individuals are currently in the application process, and we’re confident these sessions will contribute to a growing network of passionate educators in Central Otago.”People who want to become a Barnardos Early Learning home based educator need a passion for inspiring young children through daily activities, and a commitment to creating a positive difference for families.They will also need to provide a home environment that meets health and safety requirements, and a Level 4 New Zealand Certificate in Early Childhood Education and Care qualification - or be willing to enter a training programme to obtain one while working.Visit the Barnardos Early Learning website to find out more or phone 0800 227 627.PHOTO: Barnardos

MPI accused of not thoroughly investigating bird deaths
MPI accused of not thoroughly investigating bird deaths

22 May 2024, 2:10 AM

Otago and Southland Fish & Game Councils have accused the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) of failing to complete a thorough investigation into mass bird deaths in Wānaka last month.About 100 birds, including 85 native paradise shelduck, were found dead in Dublin Bay last month.Fish & Game said it was “dismayed” that MPI had elected not to conduct further testing of the birds after its biosecurity group ruled out exotic disease as the cause of death.Read more: ‘Exotic disease’ did not kill birds Otago Fish & Game chief executive Ian Hadland said Fish & Game suspects “the insecticide diazinon is to blame for recent mass bird mortalities at Wānaka and near Te Anau, but we need this confirmed”.“I would have thought MPI would be as interested as us in confirming the cause of death, but unfortunately they have walked away. It’s like they don't want to know,” he said.A Wānaka woman who collected about 20 dead birds from Dublin Bay told the Wānaka App she was told by a vet (outside of Wānaka) contracted by MPI that three birds which she had given him to test had died from “poisoning with organophosphates”.Organophosphates are an active ingredient in insecticides. The woman, who wished to remain anonymous, said the vet had advised her a farmer in the Dublin Bay area had been spoken to and admitted using organophosphates to eradicate grass grub for crop maintenance.“As poisoning birds is illegal, I asked what action may need to be taken and he said that was a matter for MPI or Fish & Game to decide on,” she said.She said the vet explained that organophosphates remain in the food chain, meaning that birds which eat grass grubs would be poisoned, as would other animals which ate the poisoned birds.Fish & Game said it would now test samples of dead birds from both incidents in Otago and Southland.Dead paradise shelducks litter the shoreline at Dublin Bay last month. PHOTO: Fish & GameIan said it was “unacceptable that a not-for-profit organisation like Fish & Game has to use licence holder funds to mop up an incomplete investigation by a large government department such as MPI”.In Te Anau, 64 dead paradise shelducks were discovered and further bodies were seen in an adjacent paddock on the foreshore on April 4.In a separate incident, a concerned landowner contacted Southland Fish & Game, upset that he had accidentally poisoned shelduck through application of diazinon.“It’s clear from one of the farmers who contacted Fish & Game that this product is extremely toxic to birds, so to have the agency responsible deliberately ignore the risks is abhorrent,” Southland Fish & Game manager Zane Moss said.Diazinon is a registered insecticide used by the New Zealand agricultural industry. It is administered by MPI under the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Act 1997. The incesticide has been banned from agricultural products in the European Union since 2007. MPI Biosecurity New Zealand deputy director-general Stuart Anderson said toxicology testing is not in MPI’s remit. PHOTO: SuppliedMPI Biosecurity New Zealand deputy director-general Stuart Anderson told the Wānaka App MPI had discussed with Fish & Game that its role was exotic disease testing (which it is funded to provide) and that the MPI laboratory would not do toxicology testing.“Our core role is to investigate and respond to biosecurity risks threatening our primary industries and support our country by providing evidence of freedom status for market access,” Stuart said today (Wednesday May 22).MPI confirmed it contacted other laboratories “to see if they were able to do the testing that Fish & Game want[s] to do, and we offered to assist them by providing them with appropriate samples for toxicology testing”. MPI animal welfare compliance has an investigation open to determine if there have been any breaches of the animal welfare act in relation to the death of the birds, an MPI spokesperson added.The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is phasing out pesticides containing prothiofos, terbufos, fenamiphos, methamidophos and diazinon.“It is important that users of these products familiarise themselves with the label and follow directions,” the spokesperson said.  

Best NZ-made film goes to local filmmaker
Best NZ-made film goes to local filmmaker

21 May 2024, 5:00 PM

Wānaka filmmaker Finlay Woods has won the NZ Mountain Film and Book Festival’s (NZMFF) Hiddleston/MacQueen Award for Best NZ-Made Film for his film Terra Incognita.The film follows a crew of world-class skiers led by Freeride World Tour competitor Craig Murray as they attempt to ski new lines in the Southern Alps and experiment with pack horses to access ski touring.“It feels great to receive this recognition for the film after all of the work put in by so many people,” Finlay said. “And for it to be from the NZMFF is really special - I spent so many of my younger years going and being inspired by the films in the festival.”Terra Incognita (which translates to terrain unknown) explores the realities of pushing into some of the most remote places in the country and the triumphs and tribulations of those endeavours.“For us the goal of Terra Incognita was to explore new places in the Southern Alps,” Craig said, which was a “transformative and educational process”.“We experienced a range of places, weather and conditions as well as sharing a ride of emotions with many great people. In some ways I think our motivation and positivity created our own luck. “More than once, when a plan completely fell through, another unexpected opportunity would arise.”Finley and Craig extended a “massive thank you” to all the people who helped make the film possible.Another 18 awards were granted in a range of categories and the Grand Prize was awarded to French director Hugo Clouzeau for his film, ‘Nuptse: Touching the Intangible’, which follows three climbers who are dreaming of opening a new extreme route on the legendary south face of Nuptse, a wall approaching 8000m in the heart of the Himalayas. Those films and several dozen more (whittled down from a record 241 entries) will feature at this year’s NZMFF, which will take place in Wānaka from June 21-25, in Queenstown from June 27-28 and online in July.Find the full festival programme at the NZMFF website or at Paper Plus.PHOTO: Supplied

Wānaka celebrates ‘Tech Week’
Wānaka celebrates ‘Tech Week’

20 May 2024, 10:47 PM

The country wide Techweek, which aims to spark conversations about the value and impact of emerging technology on the lives of New Zealanders, is also being celebrated in Wānaka.Wānaka Tech Meet-Up will host its first tech quiz as a part of Techweek ’24 at b.social this evening (Tuesday 21) at 6.30pm, putting people’s tech (and general knowledge) to the test.  “By hosting the quiz, Wānaka Tech Meet-Up aims to spark discussions about technology within our local community, making it an inclusive and accessible activity for all during New Zealand Techweek," LOGIC1’s Niamh O’Byrne told the Wānaka App.“Tech is a big part of our everyday lives, and our quiz is designed to connect tech enthusiasts and maybe even expand your tech know-how.”Since kicking off last year, Wānaka Tech Meet-Up has grown into a monthly gathering, providing a platform for remote workers and local tech professionals to connect, share insights, and network, Niamh said.There are a significant number of people working in technology in Wānaka, she added, and the quiz night aims to “help start a conversation about technology in a fun way”.“We hope that this is something that we can grow each year,” she said.Niamh said there are three Techweek events in Queenstown, including a collaborative event today with Lake Wānaka Tourism focused on the best technology for tourism and hospitality.There is also a session in Queenstown and online on Wednesday about low-code and how it can support Startups to prototype and iterate faster and accelerate time to market; and a ‘Women in Tech’ session which features a panel discussion by women from various tech fields, sharing their stories, insights, and tips on thriving in tech. Find more information about NZ Techweek here.PHOTO: Supplied

Strong opposition to urban intensification variation
Strong opposition to urban intensification variation

20 May 2024, 5:06 PM

New information shared by Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) provides a taste of the public sentiment on the proposed Urban Intensification Variation (UIV).If approved the UIV would allow for substantially increased building height and density and the controversial proposal attracted a whopping 1,257 submissions during the initial feedback process.Released by QLDC last week, the ‘summary of decisions requested’ (which highlights submitters’ sentiment on different aspects of the proposal) shows how submitters feel about the proposal - and it’s overwhelmingly negative.Many Upper Clutha submitters said any increases in building height allowances should be applied at Three Parks rather than existing residential areas or the Wānaka CBD.Opposition to increased building height in the Wānaka CBD was frequent, with one submitter saying it would “forever ruin the character” of the area.Changes to building and density rules in the Lower Density Residential Zone appeared to receive a little less opposition than changes to the Medium Density Residential Zone, but many submitters still opposed both (and the proposal in its entirety).The UIV proposes increasing allowable building height to eight metres in the Lower Density Residential Zone (LDRZ) and 11 metres (+ 1m for pitched roofs) in the Medium Density Residential Zone (MDRZ), as well as 16.5 metres in the Wānaka CBD.It would also include rezoning some areas in the Upper Clutha from LDRZ to MDRZ.A more detailed explainer can be found here.While there was some support for the proposal it was far outnumbered by opposition. Many people who submitted in opposition to the UIV referenced the effect of new, denser development on the level of sunlight and privacy of existing buildings. Other suggestions from submitters included applying the new density rules for new development but not established sites; increasing height limits but by reduced amounts (for example, 9m+1m in MDRZ); and asking that certain areas (most frequently Arrowtown) be exempt from changes.The UIV is an outcome of central government’s national policy statement on urban development (NPS-UD), which directs councils around the country to remove some planning rules and plan for growth ‘both up and out’.It aims to respond to overly restrictive planning rules around the country that have driven up prices and denied people housing and QLDC chief executive Mike Theelen said it is intended “to stop local communities and local councils forever finding reasons not to intensify”.Now that the summary of decisions requested has been released, original submitters have until June 14 to make a further submission on the UIV. Further submissions can also be made by people who are 'representing a relevant aspect of the public interest' or whose 'interest in the proposal is more than the interest of the general public'.The proposal will then be considered by a hearings panel in the last quarter of 2024 or early 2025, QLDC media and channels advisor Sam White said.PHOTO: Wānaka App

Change of chair at Warbirds Trust
Change of chair at Warbirds Trust

20 May 2024, 5:04 PM

Retiring Warbirds Over Wānaka Community Trust chairman John Gilks says he’s thrilled to have been in the role for the event’s most successful airshow in its 36-year history.The 2024 airshow saw the Easter weekend’s Saturday and Sunday both sold out and a record crowd for the practice day on Friday (March 29-31).  An estimated 8,000 people also attended the free community airshow at the lakefront on Good Friday.John said after leading the organisation for the past ten years it was hugely satisfying to be able to put on such an amazing event this Easter, especially given the last two airshows had to be cancelled because of Covid-19.“Leading into this airshow I was confident there was a lot of pent-up demand but with any major outdoor event there are still a number of things that can go wrong at the last minute,” he said.“But everything came together so well for this year’s airshow – an amazing line-up of aircraft, record crowds and perfect weather.”Read more: ‘Best Warbirds ever’: Organisers blown away by feedbackJohn said the final financial situation won’t be known until the end of the organisation’s financial year in September, however it’s looking likely Warbirds will be in a strong position to put on another airshow at Easter 2026 and beyond.“It’s a great position to be in but it would not have been possible without the help of the many funding organisations, sponsors and individuals who supported us during the past six years,” John said.“Without that funding Warbirds would not have survived. We hope we were able to repay that support by staging the most successful airshow in the event’s history.”Paul Moodie of Wānaka will replace John as chairman.Paul Moodie PHOTO: SuppliedThe 2024 airshow was Paul’s first as a member of the board and he says his vision for the future is pretty simple: “Warbirds needs to continue to deliver a top-class international event which delivers significant, positive benefits for our community.”PHOTO: Wānaka App

Brighter skies ahead - MetService
Brighter skies ahead - MetService

20 May 2024, 6:30 AM

Despite a freezing day under the inversion layer of cloud today (Monday May 20), the MetService has predicted the skies will clear up as the week progresses.The inversion is an annual weather event which results from rapid cooling at ground level under clear sky conditions. The cloud is formed at low levels due to the temperature difference of the air just above the surface of the land and the air higher up.Last year the inversion stuck around for a miserable few weeks, but MetService meteorologist John Law told the Wānaka App there is “much more active weather” over the country this week which should provide enough wind to move the fog.“You shouldn’t have the long, lingering cloud,” he said.“We’ve got the chance of a cloudier morning on Tuesday, but on Wednesday and Thursday the skies should be clearer,” he said.The plus side of the cloud, he said, was it “acts as a bit of a blanket”, which means temperatures should be warmer than those last week.The MetService says the lack of heating at this time of the year, when the sun’s at its weakest, combined with a lack of wind to mix dry air from above, means the moisture stays in basins and valleys.Usually under a ridge of high pressure there are light winds and generally clear skies, which allows rapid cooling to take place at the surface, but if there’s moisture trapped at low levels that condenses into fog, which can stay trapped in these valleys for days.

Securing a rung on the property ladder with co-owners (Law blog)
Securing a rung on the property ladder with co-owners (Law blog)

19 May 2024, 8:00 PM

New Zealand properties are now valued at seven times the average household income. In fact, last year, mortgage repayments accounted for a massive 49 percent of Kiwi household’s gross annual income1. Kiwis are being locked out of home ownership because it is simply unaffordable.But there is hope. Buying a house with family or friends can be a great way of getting yourself onto the property ladder. Co-ownership or shared ownership is becoming increasingly common and can give each person a distinct share in the property that you couldn’t otherwise afford on your own. Choose the person or people wisely though and it’s critical that you get a property sharing agreement drawn up.Before jumping in, you’ll need to think about what each co-owner’s share in the property will be. For example, do you want equal shares? Will you all put in the same deposit? Maybe the share of the property will be proportional to the size of each co-owner’s deposit?Property Sharing Agreements should always be drawn up on a case-by-case basis, but they will typically cover some or all of these areas.How the property is going to be owned and how each party’s ownership share is recorded on the title.If the parties are contributing different amounts to the purchase, then a clause should be included outlining what proportion is owned by each of the parties.Details of how the mortgage will be paid. One person may want to pay more than the others for example.What happens if one party fails to pay the mortgage?What is the decision-making process? Different parties may have different views on the need to renovate the house and maintain it.How will the property be maintained?Who is responsible for managing the property including paying the bills, organizing renovations, and managing tenants if you’re going to rent out the property.What happens if one party dies?What happens if one of you wants to sell? A common clause included in most agreements is the right of first refusal.Depending on where you live in New Zealand, property prices can double every 10 to 12 years, so home ownership certainly has its rewards. If you think a property sharing arrangement might be right for you, get in touch, we can help you get started. (1.last quarter of 2023, Corelogic)

Health group lobbies for after-hours ‘stop gap’ measure
Health group lobbies for after-hours ‘stop gap’ measure

19 May 2024, 5:06 PM

Health Action Wānaka (HAW), Wānaka’s new health advocacy group, is pushing for a ‘stop gap’ measure to provide full after-hours care in the Upper Clutha. Wānaka’s GP practices currently offer after-hours care until 11pm, after which patients who need to be seen by a clinician may be directed by Healthline to the Lakes District Hospital emergency department in Queenstown or Dunstan Hospital in Clyde.HAW said when doctors in Alexandra and Cromwell stopped offering after-hours care, WellSouth (which funds local GP healthcare) stepped in and funded Central Otago Health Services Limited (Dunstan Hospital) to provide the service. “GP-led extended after-hours medical care ceased in Wānaka in 2022, yet we are still waiting for a solution to be implemented to provide this essential service to our community,” HAW said.HAW said Te Whatu Ora has the opportunity to fund a ‘stop-gap’ solution to the Upper Clutha community’s lack of access to extended after-hours medical care. “The proposal would provide a clinical nurse specialist (an experienced and skilled senior clinician) on-site overnight with remote support from a senior doctor based at Dunstan Hospital. “People could be assessed by the clinical nurse specialist and receive either overnight observation and monitoring locally, or be referred via ambulance to Dunstan Hospital if needed,” HAW said.Representatives of Central Otago Health Services Limited (COHSL), the community-owned, not-for-profit organisation that provides health services out of Dunstan Hospital, have spent two years working on this proposal, HAW said, “so it’s important we let decision-makers know that we need this service as soon as possible”. HAW is encouraging locals to email Te Whatu Ora ([email protected]) with their support for the proposal.Read more: Wānaka after hours health care cut

St John champion cadet off to Hong Kong competition
St John champion cadet off to Hong Kong competition

19 May 2024, 5:04 PM

A local Hato Hone St John cadet has been selected to travel to Hong Kong in July to compete in the Asia Pacific Regional Youth First Aid Competition.Lily Wilson (17) is one of just ten members of St John Youth from around the country to be selected for the competition, where she will test her skills in high-stakes scenarios.St John competitions test competitors' ability to respond to emergency situations and Lily said the Asia-Pacific competition is slightly different to the ones in New Zealand.“They have a nursing and ambulance team and focus on trauma and patient care and things like that,” she said. Lily has been involved with St John since she was six; she says it has had a big influence on her plans to study nursing when she finishes school this year.As part of the two-week trip to Hong Kong Lily will also get the chance to participate in St John Hong Kong’s 140th birthday celebrations, which will include visiting cultural sites and other activities. Lily has been involved with St John Youth since the age of six and it has become a huge part of her life. She is the South Island Cadet of the Year 2024, a major achievement and responsibility within the organisation, and the first time a Wānaka cadet has received the honour.“I get to attend a lot of the events across the South Island,” Lily said. “That can be investitures, where we ‘invest’ people into the Order of St John. There’s also competitions and regional camps.“When I’m not travelling I get to keep in contact with a lot of the young people in the organisation and help the other cadets.”In April she competed at the national St John annual competition as a team leader for one of the South Island teams; her team was tested by responding to scenarios including a car crash and a bus that was on fire, among many others.Lily’s team was crowned champion team at the competition and she was named champion team leader.The camaraderie and the learning opportunities within St John are what keep Lily interested and she says she expects to have a lifelong involvement with the organisation.“I’ve met some of my closest friends within the organisation which is really cool,” she said. “I’ve also found so many leadership opportunities and places to grow my skills.”Lily is in her last year of school this year and she plans to study nursing next year.“St John has shown me that I really like caring for other people.”“I can see myself working on the ambulance in the future possibly as a volunteer and see myself continuing with the Youth Programme in a leadership role. ”The local St John has run its youth programme for 15 years. Find more information about it here.PHOTOS: Supplied

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