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After the official announcement by the Executive Board of UNESCO last week, the Waitaki Whitestone Geopark Trust and Te Rūnanga o Moeraki were delighted to celebrate this milestone with a ceremony and lunch in Ōamaru on Wednesday 31 May.

It was a day to celebrate with those that have been part of this journey for over 20 years and acknowledge the work by so many volunteers and community groups as well as the support of many organisations without which the UNESCO designation would not have been possible.

We were fortunate to be joined by our speakers

  • Helen Jansen, Chair Waitaki Whitestone Geopark Trust

  • Gary Kircher, Mayor for Waitaki

  • Hon Peeni Henare, Tourism Minister

  • Liz Longworth, Chair NZ National Commission for UNESCO

  • Video message from Nickolas Zouros, President of the Global Geoparks Network

Following the ceremony and lunch, some people headed away on guided bus tours. These were optional, but a wonderful way to see the work done so far, visit some of our special geosites and learn more about Waitaki’s cultural, geological and natural histories. One bus went inland towards Duntroon and the other one went down the coast.

A massive thank you to our tour guides David Higgins, Sasha Morriss, Mike Gray, Mauriri McGlinchey and Gerard O'Regan who generously shared some of the cultural, social and geological stories along the way.

A massive thank you to Elizabeth Prentice from Maneland Photography and her students Isaac, Jacob and Brodie for documenting this special day with these high-quality photographs. Thank you to Jacob Yates (Coastal Bus) and Brodie Kyles (Inland bus) from who also joined the bus tours and documenting it with wonderful images!

And the celebrations have only just begun... We are planning a celebration weekend for the end of October, when the temperatures are warmer, with a variety of events and activities on offer. We are looking forward to celebrating with the entire community and offer ways for everyone to learn more about our backyard and feeling part of a global network of Geoparks that care for its environment and people. Stay tuned as we develop the programme in the next couple of months. Sign up to our monthly newsletter to not miss any Geopark news

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