Cliff bright idea coming to fruition

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After close to a decade, an Oamaru man’s dream of seeing the old quarry cliff beside the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony bathed in light is set to become a reality. About seven years ago, Stewart MacDonald approached then Waitaki district councillor and current Waitaki mayor Gary Kircher about the possibility of lighting the quarry. ‘‘It’s one [topic] that he has had a keen interest in for a long time and I certainly remember talking to him just over six years ago whenI wasa councillor. He was enthusiastic about the idea and thought it would be great,’’ Mr Kircher said.  ‘‘Nothing had happened in the interim and then I bumped into him and his wife at The Galley and I saidI was thinking about lighting up the cliff. . .We’re getting on with the project at long, long last.’’ Four lights are to be installed to the right of the penguin colony, which he believed would enhance the ambience of the area at night, Mr Kircher said. ‘‘When you’re down there at night­time, it’s pretty black. What this does is it gives some soft lighting and it’s really interesting because you can see the shapes of the rocks on the cliffs — it gives them a bit of depth and definition and it makes the area a bit more safe as well.’’ Discussions were held between council staff and the penguin colony about any potential impact on the penguins before testing was carried out. The lighting did not impact on penguin behaviour, but one of the lights could be shifted if required, Mr Kircher said. ‘When we carried out testing, they kept an eye on the penguins . . . It didn’t affect them too much. There is only a bit of light on the cliff behind the penguin colony — most of it is to the right, and we can move one of the lights.’’ The project has cost between $8000 and $9000, the bulk of which has been donated by Mr MacDonald, a resident at Rendell on Reed rest­home. The remainder has been financed by other donations, while labour has been supplied voluntarily by local contractors. A date for the official light­up was yet to be set, but he looked forward to honouring Mr MacDonald’s wishes, Mr Kircher said. ‘‘It’s great to see his dream coming true.’’