Entering the Waitaki District Council chambers with a large support group in tow, Waitaki Whitestone Geopark trustees requested additional funding from the council at Tuesday’s long-term plan hearings.
The trust’s proposal, presented by chairwoman Helen Jansen and trustee Gerald Carter, asked for $100,000 from January next year to keep two staff members for the next three and a-half years, as the trust continue to push for Unesco status as a global geopark.
A further $100,000 was sought for interpretation and entry signage, to be co-designed and co-funded with iwi, which is a requirement for Unesco status.
Trustees also asked for $25,000 for school education and a public exhibition – and that the present arrangement of $25,000 funding per year be continued.
Mr Carter said the geopark needed funding to finish the Unesco designation the council started.
“Other funders need to see that council’s got skin in the game as well,” he said.
“We’ve got a lot of applications out there for other funding, but [if] we don’t have that support from council, they will not give us that support.”
When asked what benefits Unesco branding would bring to the district, Mr Carter, who lives in Canterbury, said it was a huge opportunity to create an identity for Waitaki.
“Being an outsider, I’m so amazed by the stories to tell .. that’s why I’m part of the trust.”
Ms Jansen said people “flocked” to Waitaki for its fossil collections and the unique limestone flora and fauna.
“We’ve got the widest diversity of the rarest plants of the limestone ecology in the world,” Ms Jansen said.
“If we’ve got things that we can really cherish, we can call our own .. [it’ll] help make us a more unique place to be.”