With a new direction and logo, a new Chair and new Trustees, the Waitaki Whitestone Geopark today released its new Strategic Plan 2021 - 2025.
In its early days, the Geopark strategy had a significant focus on the economic benefit it would bring to the district through increased international visitation. The interruption to international and domestic travel caused by COVID-19 gave the Trust the opportunity to review its strategy. While the benefits through visitation are now still accruing courtesy of domestic visitors, the Geopark strategy has pivoted to create a higher focus on providing community benefits through environmental stewardship, education, and local story-telling.
The main drivers of the new strategy are a focus on:
Geo-conservation (protection of and access to Geosites)
Education – informing our generations about our place and the need to protect it
Sharing and sign-posting to local and indigenous knowledge and histories
The Trust will champion the telling of stories which are better told by others – for example, iwi stories, the agricultural industry, built heritage, electricity generation, irrigation, mining, sustainable land management.
Chair Ross McRobie outlined the Trust’s key ideals and why we want to be a Geopark, “Our place, Waitaki, is facing earth-based and societal challenges – so we need to take better care of it and each other. The Geopark is a way to better connect everybody to our land and to the various communities which exist because of it. If people understand the land, they will appreciate it and protect it.”
The strategy document includes the Trusts goals for the next 4 years which include seeking the most suitable level of protection for Waitaki’s geological treasures, supporting Te Rūnanga o Moeraki to protect their cultural landscapes, educating locals and visitors, and provide ways for people to engage meaningfully with our land and each other.
Original staff member Lisa Heinz, who has been with the Geopark since May 2019, will step into the Manager role to fill the shoes of Gerard Quinn who leaves Waitaki in October.