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Award on Harbour . . . Dawn Brown stands outside of her store Presence on Harbour after being awarded a Qualmark Sustainable Tourism Business Award. PHOTO: RUBY HEYWARD

Dawn Brown hopes receiving a Qualmark award will help local business.

Presence on Harbour, owned by Mrs Brown, was awarded a silver Qualmark Sustainable Tourism Business Award last week.

When the world was first put on hold because of Covid-19, Qualmark offered free memberships, so Mrs Brown jumped at the opportunity.

Part of what landed the shop the award was its attention to stocking New Zealand-made, community-minded and environmentally-friendly products, she said.

As a member of the Waitaki Tourism Association and the Oamaru Business Collective, she saw the award as something that could help build the Waitati district’s profile, especially following the blow of Covid-19 to the tourism industry.

The border closures were an opportunity for New Zealanders to see their own country.

“We’ll never get a better chance. We’ve got to make hay while the sun shines,” she said.

Mrs Brown has owned Presence on Harbour for six years and has seen it grow exponentially.

The shop stocked all kinds of Kiwiana, but did not call them souvenirs, she said.

According to Mrs Brown, the magic of Presence on Harbour was the appeal it had to New Zealand and international customers.

Long-time employee and Oamaru resident Lynley Muldrew could not agree more and said Mrs Brown’s trick was how well she could capture the Kiwi flavour in a way that locals could enjoy too.

“She has an eye for picking products that Kiwis are happy to put on their wall,” Mrs Muldrew said.

Part of this magic could be put down to Mrs Brown’s insider knowledge as an outsider.

She and her husband, with their two young daughters in tow, moved from the South of England to New Zealand 17 years ago.

“Oamaru was a nice surprise. We could see its potential straight away.”

Mrs Brown said she wanted to give her daughters a ’60s and ’70s lifestyle, with modern opportunities – and Oamaru provided that.

“It’s such a hidden gem,” she said.

But she hoped that would change and more people would discover the treasures of the North Otago town.Asics shoesKlær Nike