Over the last couple of weeks, we embarked on a Geopark Roadshow through the Waitaki District seeking local resident input. With a new logo and new Strategic Plan for the next four years, it was a great opportunity to present the changes to our communities, but especially to hear what stories and projects are important to the community. Break out discussions identified some key themes and the refreshed strategy (shifting from a strong tourism focus to more community-based outcomes and education) was positively received. Thank you to everyone who joined us in Kurow, Palmerston, Ōamaru, Ōmārama or participated in our virtual roadshow.
A range of smaller, location-specific projects were identified, which we will be working on over the next couple of months. In addition to these, two key themes were highlighted. We have included these in our Operational Plan for 2022:
1. Local story-telling and touring routes Sharing local stories connected to sites, buildings and towns was at the centre of much of the feedback we received. The Waitaki is teeming with stories to tell - geological, cultural, social and natural! As a Geopark, telling the stories connected to the land in order to enable people to care for and connect to our land and our people, is at the heart of what we do. Participants were keen to combine local story-telling with localised touring routes for different areas of the Geopark. A great mechanism for this is the Waitaki Whitestone Geopark Touring App that already exists. Further touring routes can be added to this App. In 2022 we plan to work with different communities within the Geopark to develop meaningful and extensive touring routes. These routes will include stories about sites and buildings of interest as well as stories connected to townships. As part of this, we plan to carry out a mapping and site identification exercise with the community as well as content development and review. Note: It is important to us that we are able to invest the necessary time and resources into these projects. As such, we anticipate that this project won't start until half-way through 2022 due to other projects we have already committed to.
2. More online educational resources for all areas of the Geopark Over the first lockdown in 2020, our Geoeducator Sasha created a range of free educational resources for local teachers and Waitaki families. We have been slowly adding to those as the demand arose, however we recognise that these resources do not cover all areas of the Waitaki Whitestone Geopark. In 2022 we plan to develop a range of additional educational resources focusing on other areas within the Geopark. Remember we welcome feedback, and if there are specific topics you would like to see us to cover please do let us know! Email us and we do our best to make it work!
We recognise that we were not able to hold a Roadshow in every town within the Geopark. Are you part of a Waitaki Community Group? Get in touch with us if you would like the Geopark team to join your Community Group meeting to introduce the Geopark and discuss projects that we can support you with! Email: firstname.lastname@example.org