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Something to say . . . Friends of the Oamaru Harbour members Katrina Hazelhurst (left) and Vicki Jayne want more discussion over the future of the Oamaru Harbour. PHOTO: TYSON YOUNG

A new group is calling for a measured approach to the development of the Oamaru Harbour.

Earlier this month, the Friends of Oamaru Harbour group was set up by residents Vicki Jayne and Katrina Hazelhurst.

They say the group’s aim is to promote the harbour’s heritage and wildlife appeal, and they have called for any future developments of the harbour to comply with the provisions within the 2011 harbour masterplan.

“The council’s upcoming revision of the harbour plan should keep the basic policies that have made the harbour so attractive to residents and tourists,” Mrs Hazelhurst said.

“We believe most Oamaru residents have strong feelings about what is and isn’t good for the harbour, and we will ask them to speak up loudly in the council’s consultation process.”

For several years, the development of the Oamaru Harbour has been a prime focus for the Waitaki District Council and tourism operators.

Ideas ranging from ziplines to a floating hotel have been proposed, and reaction has been mixed.

Mrs Jayne said Friends of amaru Harbour consisted of about 50 people, representing a variety of user groups.

They wanted to make sure a harbour consultation process was “robust and inclusive – not a tick-the-box, public relation-type exercise”.

Friends of Oamaru Harbour has contacted many of the groups that use the harbour and the nearby Victorian precinct and will encourage them to advocate for their own visions of the harbour’s future.

Mrs Jayne claimed many people in Oamaru had the same concerns as the group.

“We actually see that there is a growing tidal wave of concern about the nature of some recent proposals for the harbour,” she said.

“We saw that while a lot of developments have been family-oriented, and community-oriented, some of the recent proposals had not been.”

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said he found it “interesting” that the group had been formed.

“That’s absolutely fine – it’s another group to engage with,” he said.

“They are obviously a group of people who are very passionate about the area.

“We’ve given them every assurance that we’re going to be including the public and it’s our intention to do that.”

Mr Kircher has previously told the Otago Daily Times that public engagement on Oamaru’s “harbour and heritage quarter” masterplan could begin this month.

The council had engaged Arrowtown consultant Rationale to help with the process.

The council-led process would include public meetings, drop-in sessions, a public survey and information through both social and traditional media channels.