By Alistair Brickell.
Excepts taken from Paul Cook’s address to the Kuaotunu Dark Sky gathering at Opito on Easter Saturday with over 100 in attendance.
It’s worth knowing what we mean by a Dark Sky Community (DSC). This is simply an area with outstanding night skies and lighting that meets International Dark Sky Association (IDA based in Tucson, Arizona) standards. There must be policies and regulations in place to ensure those standards are maintained, and there must be strong community support.
These requirements translate into our three areas of activity – preparing a district plan change to establish the policies and regulations - going through the IDA application and accreditation process - and building support in the community.
Kuaotunu to become a Dark Sky Community
We are making great progress across all three areas. Our consultants are working with TCDC to draft the plan change and engaging with interested parties to address any issues or concerns raised. We have registered our formal application with IDA and are now going through the process of developing all the required documentation. Finally, we are working hard to communicate with all the immediately affected people, and the wider communities across and adjoining the Coromandel Peninsula. We have a Facebook group set up https://www.facebook.com/groups/kuaotunudarksky
and a website in place - please join the group to demonstrate your support and visit the website (www.kuaotunudarksky.nz) if you are interested in further information.
We are receiving great support from TCDC staff and councillors, who are getting right behind this initiative. We also have support from the ratepayer associations across the peninsula and Iwi, particularly Ngati Hei. We believe that great support from the community for preserving this wonderful night sky environment has already been demonstrated.
Why we want to do this: Finally, of course it’s worth remembering why we want to do this – it’s good for us, good for the environment, good for animals and insects. And it even provides great economic opportunities – what's not to like??
Paul Cook is Treasurer of Opito Bay Ratepayers Association (OBRA) and also a Trustee of the recently formed Kuaotunu Dark Sky Trust (KDST).
The next public viewing event will be over Matariki weekend, early Saturday morning, July 15 at Kuaotunu domain. 5-6am start again, but the barbeque is great and the night sky even better!
Alastair Brickell, also a Trustee of KDST, says that they are hoping to become the first IDA accredited International Dart Sky Community in New Zealand or Australia. “This will mean we will not only be the first IDA accredited International Dark Sky Community in Australia or NZ but also the only one in the Southern Hemisphere, apart from tiny Niue which lies in the middle of the Pacific, over 400km from any other landmass,: says Alastair.