Sponsors, members and supporters:
After nearly four years of hard mahi, the WDSA committee expects to file its formal application for international Dark Sky Reserve status by month’s end! We are pleased to report our group was able to move forward quite quickly to preparing the formal application once the South Wairarapa and Carterton District Councils signed off the region’s lighting plan changes at the end of June.
As you may know, formal lighting plans which meet International Dark Sky Association requirements are critical for any application to be accepted and proceed. WDSA had kept up its liaison with IDA through the plan process to ensure the changes (which will be significant as the region goes forward) met all requirements.
IDA clearly signalled its approval of the proposed plan changes, testament to the work which went into them from the councils and their consultant.
We submitted an initial draft for the IDA
The application document, including maps, plans and photos, is in final form, with an initial draft filed to IDA for their comment, as required. It has involved many hours of effort by our volunteer team, with data collection/processing and drafting the two major work streams over the past several weeks.
Once the IDA has reviewed the draft and provided feedback, WDSA expects to submit the final version of the application in the next few weeks _ regardless of Covid-19 status.
Our hope is that we will emerge from the IDA process by no later than early next year, or sooner.
Support by all four regional bodies (South Wairarapa, Carterton, Masterton, Wellington Regional Council) has been outstanding and deserves public recognition.
The group is currently assessing a proposal to enter Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) with these bodies as WDSA’s status changes and it becomes the body responsible for maintaining the dark sky reserve’s status into the future.
The IDA requires mandatory annual reporting on developments _ particularly improvements _ to the reserve, based on the benchmarks established at its approval point.
WDSA also wants to acknowledge its sponsors, including the Provincial Growth Fund; Westpac Bank; U.S. Embassy; South Wairarapa, Carterton and Wellington Regional Councils; plus the businesses which have funded and host night sky-monitoring TESS meters across the region _ providing a permanent data record of the dark skies:
The Claremont Hotel
Pain & Kershaw Martinborough
The Martinborough Hotel
Ata Rangi Martinborough
Mitre 10 Martinborough
Susan Stephen & Co Realty
Web site design and support:
Formal letters of support for the Dark Sky Reserve, which help indicate public support for the dark sky project by official groups and individuals, have been received from:
Prof Yvonne Cagle _ M.D. Astronaut, Aerospace Professor
Waka Kotahi _ NZ Transport Agency
Department of Conservation
South Wairarapa District Council
Masterton District Council
South Wairarapa Maori Standing Committee
Martinborough Community Board
Greytown Community Board
Carterton District Council
Kieran McAnulty, MP
Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister
Wellington Astronomical Society
New Zealand Astrobiology Network
Phoenix Astronomical Society
NZ Forest & Bird
South Wairarapa District Council has supported proposals by WDSA to ensure the preservation of the Category 1 listed Heritage building Carkeek Observatory, built near Featherston in 1868 and likely the oldest remaining observatory of its type in New Zealand.
An archeological architect is working on plans to protect and preserve the remains of this wooden structure, built by retired government Controller of Customs Stephen Carkeek for atronomy and celestial observations.
The iconic “ruins” – so-called by Heritage NZ in their heritage listing report – can be preserved, and work is under way to plan the process involved.