Hawea Community Pot Luck Dinner
Care urged as fire danger climbs
People in the Queenstown Lakes District are being urged to be careful while mowing or doing other outdoor activities that can cause sparks after several vegetation fires this week.
Dry conditions in the Wanaka area have increased the risk that a fire could spread quickly.
Department of Conservation Wanaka community relations manager Annette Grieve said it was investigating a fire in the East Matukituki Valley, near Hester Penney Creek, in Mt Aspiring National Park, on Monday which burnt more than 100 hectares of beech trees and tussock.
It was believed the fire was started near the East Matukituki track and a man seen in the area was interviewed. Helicopters were needed to put out the fire, which appeared to have been caused by an unpermitted campfire.
The fire flared up on Tuesday afternoon, but hot spots were controlled yesterday by fire crews.
Two smaller vegetation fires were reported around Tarras and Lake Hawea yesterday, with one burning more than 100 square metres.
The Tarras fire brigade responded to a rural fire in Cemetery Rd and Ardgour Rd just after 12.20pm.
The Lake Hawea fire brigade and the Luggate tanker were called to a small vegetation fire in Kane Rd, Hawea Flat, near the Windmill corner, about 2.30pm. It was under control a short time later.
Queenstown Lakes District Council principal rural fire officer Gordon Bailey said it was likely the restricted fire season, in which people could get a permit to light fires, would come to an end within the next few days.
“The risk is getting higher. People need to be careful when they are outdoors mowing or doing other things that cause sparks,” Mr Bailey said.
New chairwoman keen on local decisions
Should Wanaka ratepayers contribute to Queenstown’s proposed $50 million convention centre?
Ms Brown had previously questioned helping pay for the Queenstown convention centre, but her election to the Wanaka board last month and her elevation last week to the helm suggests her views are more mainstream than might previously have been thought.
The Queenstown Lakes District Council voted unanimously in September to proceed with the centre. That could add as much as $145 to individual rate demands, although council staff have been directed to produce a clearer analysis of the impact on rates before the end of the month. Speaking to the Otago Daily Times this week, Ms Brown said the convention centre proposal was ”very new” and had not been discussed much at community board level.
”It’s been pushed through very fast, so we need to talk about it.”
She said there were doubts Wanaka would benefit from a convention centre in Queenstown.
Disagreement over funding of the centre would add another element to the rift between the two tourist towns, Ms Brown noting Wanaka people were already ”disaffected” by council decisions over changes to kerbside rubbish collection contracts and cuts to library staff.
”It really hit them in their soul.”
She believed the board needed to address the perception of Queenstown being ”big brother over the hill” and not looking after Wanaka.
”Our job is to represent Wanaka and we really need to make them feel represented and to make them really feel that their views are being put forward to the council,” she said.
Ms Brown foresees the possibility of greater self-determination for Wanaka as a result of government moves to create more Auckland-style super cities – with the possibility of a more powerful local board rather than a community board.
”That might be an answer to how we could be more independent.
”People … want some autonomy; they want to make local decisions.”
Ms Brown was nominated as chairwoman by new district councillor Ella Lawton and seconded by fellow newcomer Calum McLeod.
Mr McLeod is calling for the downsizing and relocation of a $16 million sports complex the council decided three years ago to include in the Three Parks subdivision of developer Allan Dippie.
Ms Brown agrees the project should be reviewed.
”I believe that we can’t ignore the people who have said we really need to look at this again. But we can’t ignore or throw away everything that’s been done to date.
”It’s a big decision. Everyone’s paying for it; people really want it; we don’t want to hold it up; but we need to make sure we do it right and we don’t spend more money than we need to.”
Ms Brown moved to Hawea Flat 18 years ago while engaged in outdoor education – teaching bushcraft, mountaineering, kayaking, personal development and leadership.
She has climbed Mt Cook half a dozen times.
She recalled Hawea Flat being described as ”hippy heights” but denied she was a ”hippy” herself.
”I don’t like being in any box, really.”
Two community board meetings have been cancelled this year for want of any agenda items but Ms Brown said there was no chance any meetings would be cancelled during her term.