Tourism funding petitioner Tai Wati

Petition seeks tourism action

by Laurie Willetts

A Dargaville resident concerned at the closure of the self-funded Kaipara Visitor’s Centre and Kaipara District Council’s refusal to allocate any funding towards tourism promotion for the foreseeable future has launched a public petition calling on the council to change its stance.

“Hopefully enough numbers will rattle the dry, indebted bones of the council into some forward-thinking and regional pride,” says Taiawhio Wati, known as Tai.

“KDC threw in the towel on promoting tourism in the area 10 years ago, and now the only voluntary and self-funded visitor centre is set to close its doors at the end of this month,” Tai said. “Then we are no longer on the map.”

“This is shocking. Consider all the amazing things we have to promote in our area and how the economic development of tourism can help our local businesses. It isn’t just motels and attractions that benefit from visitors; it’s cafes, petrol stations, grocery stores … the list goes on.

“How is it that the self-proclaimed ‘Kumara Capital’ has no heritage kumara site showcasing ancient varieties of kumara? No ‘Kumara Cafe’ serving all things kumara? Are we happy to remain the driveway for the Hokianga?”

Tai says the council “blames its kazillion dollars of debt” as the reason it can’t fund tourism and that promoting tourism isn’t its responsibility.

“Which is such a cop-out. What is the point of local government if they aren’t going to at least try and help outside of roads, rates and rubbish?”

The petition can be found at change.org/p/kaipara-district-council-please-help-save-the-kaipara-visitor-information-centre.