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Preserve, protect, promote . . . Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust's Graeme Clark works on top of the Cucina building recently. PHOTO: KAYLA HODGE

The Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust has the best mix of tenants in its 30-year history, chairman Graeme Clark says.

“There’s just a feeling of ‘we’re all in the same boat’. It’s a respect for each other . . . they appreciate the fact it’s a privilege to be there,” he said.

“They all help one another, and support one another, and that’s really important in a community like that.”

Mr Clark believed it was a result of everyone weathering the Covid-19 storm, and tenants appreciating the trust’s support.

The tenants had also played a large part in helping the trust survive, too.

“We are always under-resourced when we’re looking after 16 140-year-old buildings – it’s a challenge.

“But with support from the heritage fund, and from the tenants that have kept us going, and the council . . . we’ve come a long way from the early times of the Whitestone Civic Trust, that’s for sure.”

Whitestone City had been one of many success stories. The trust took over the visitor attraction and reopened it in July last year, after it was closed by Tourism Waitaki, and had 11,221 people come through the doors in 113 days, during weekends and school holidays.

Mr Clark said it was a fantastic result.

The Criterion Hotel also reopened at the end of last year, in the trusted hands of “two very passionate heritage operators”, Marise and Herbert Martin.

“The Criterion is the jewel in the crown of the Victorian precinct, and we are pleased to see the doors open once again.”

General maintenance being undertaken on privately owned buildings recently, such as Cucina, was positive and crucial to Oamaru’s future, Mr Clark said.

The town hung its hat on heritage, he said.

At present, the trust is advertising for an office administrator and Victorian Fete co-ordinator, and was preparing for another year of “business as usual”, with the fete the highlight.

“It’s a big event for the town. The whole heritage celebrations are, really.

“The fete is really the culmination of the week.”

The trust was also putting together a submission on the Waitaki District Council’s long-term plan, regarding support for the heritage fund.