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The Waitaki District Council today voted to grant the Waitaki Whitestone Geopark Trust up to $190k to progress the establishment of the Waitaki Whitestone Geopark and for it to seek designation as an UNESCO Global Geopark. The Trust is required to reduce the amount of the Grant if it acquires funding for their projects from other sources.

The Trust now has the resources and funding to progress key projects around community engagement, information and signage around the district, and to employ a geologist/educator and iwi and community coordinators to really get the whole of the district engaged and enjoying the landscapes and heritages of the Waitaki.

Whitestone Co-Chair Helen Jansen said, "It is wonderful to be able to move towards the UNESCO designation. With Waitaki District Council support the Waitaki Whitestone Geopark Trust is able to undertake the tasks required to ensure that the boxes are ticked for the final submission to Paris in November and then work hard to have the Geopark up to UNESCO standards by the time the inspectors get here in June next year.

We are very excited about the amount of engagement we have already had from the community. For example the food and wine industry is keen to showcase the District's produce and culinary expertise to residents and visitors alike. We can now proceed to employ a geologist-educator to deliver education and activities to our schools and young people.

This visible sign of leadership and support will open the doors for our other partners and sponsors to come on board and we are very grateful to the Waitaki District Council for the endorsement this represents.”

The Trust will be holding a number of public and community events to tell people more about the wonderful opportunities the Geopark presents for the district.

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