Community Board backs Dark Sky Sanctuary

A view of the night sky from Bluff. PHOTO: Videocopter

The Stewart Island Rakiura Community Board has given its full support for the proposed Dark Sky Sanctuary.

A recent survey of island residents and business owners showed strong support for the creation of an internationally accredited Dark Sky Sanctuary on the island. Worldwide interest in the southern night sky and the Aurora Australis means a Dark Sky accreditation would promote Stewart Island internationally as a top night sky observation destination.

The survey results showed 92% of respondents were supportive of developing a sanctuary on the island, with many identifying the perceived benefits around tourism, night sky preservation, locals experience and environmental protection.

On Monday, April 9 the Stewart Island Rakiura Community Board approved the process towards an official application to the International Dark Skies Association for Dark Sky Sanctuary status.

Stewart Island Rakiura Community Board chairman Jon Spraggon said the board was very supportive of the Dark Sky proposal.

"We're certainly well behind it, we're rapt with it. We'll support anything in relation to it."

Mr Spraggon said discussion around the table at the meeting was "totally positive".

The Department of Conservation had made an application for funding for the Observation Rock, which was a big viewing platform, and other people had been in talks for other places, he said.

Mr Spraggon said it was "all go" if there was a way they could extend tourism to Stewart Island.

The street lights on the island are also scheduled to be replaced with low energy bulbs that protect against light pollution.

Venture Southland is exploring funding options to assist in the preparation of an official application to the International Dark Skies Association. The application will be developed by an expert consultant with support from a project advisory group from Venture Southland and Stewart Island Promotion Association.


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