Superb showcase for country’s sharpest town

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About 409,700 people tuned into TV ONE on Monday night, as Oamaru took centre stage as the focus of current affairs show Seven Sharp.

All things good about Oamaru, including Alps 2 Ocean, businesses, education, steampunk, the Victorian Precinct, the Penguin Colony and the people, were showcased to the nation from 7pm to 7.30pm.

Social media exploded with positive comments of Oamaru and Tourism Waitaki say the half-hour broadcast had certainly increased our national profile and put the region on a great platform to build from into the future.

Seven Sharp presenter Jesse Mulligan said it had been a real whistle-stop tour, but the team had a great time.

The turnout in Oamaru for the live broadcast was fantastic, he said, never expecting so many on such a cold night.

“Everyone is really in the spirit of it so it’s really fun,” he said.

“Everyone seems nice and normal, but interesting.”

Mr Mulligan had received a really good response from people around the country on Twitter.

“People have discovered a town they might not have known much about and finding out there’s more to it than they might’ve originally though,” he said.

“We tried to get the best bits in half an hour, but I think we managed it.”

Going into the Waitaki Boys’ High School Hall of Memories was a highlight of the trip, he said.

“It’s been really good fun. We visited a couple of schools [on Monday] – Oamaru Intermediate and Waitaki Boys’ so that was really cool,” he said.

“[The Hall of Memories] was really special and I was with Seven Sharp reporter Matt Chisholm who got a bit choked up going back to his old school so it was really cool, a real highlight.”

He’s keen to come back and he’ll be bringing his family with him next time.

Former Waitaki Boys’ High School student and Seven Sharp reporter Matt Chisholm said it had been “superb” to come back and be a part of the event.

“It’s kind of surreal and it’s been a lot of fun,” he said.

As part of the show, he compiled a four minute track on Oamaru’s artisans.

“That was a lot of fun, good characters, a beautiful little colour story and it’s awesome to be here,” he said.

Seven Sharp executive producer Raewyn Rasch said TVNZ had a great response to the show dedicated to Oamaru.

“People loved it, and it was a great antidote to the Fonterra poison,” she said

“We certainly had an amazing time, I’m flabbergasted by the hospitality and support from the town, we wouldn’t have got that anywhere else.”

It was really good to show the country there are lots of facets to Oamaru, she said.

According to Nielsen TAM, Overnights, which combines the TV One and TV One Plus 1 audience, the average audience for Monday night’s Seven Sharp was 409,700.

Tourism Waitaki general manager Jason Gaskill said the show itself was fantastic, and showed the rest of the country what we have known for quite some time.

From businesses and schooling, to heritage and attractions, the town, and wider Waitaki District, we were well represented, Mr Gaskill said.

“We are not your average small South Island town, we’re a thriving community of diverse people and there’s pretty much something for everybody,” he said.

From Oamaru to Omarama, Mr Gaskill said feedback was universally positive yesterday.

“It pretty much is telling the rest of the country what we already knew,” he said.

“We are a remarkable place.”

While the effect on visitor numbers was hard to estimate, Mr Gaskill said it certainly put the district in a good position.

“Everyone was positive and we’re all still a bit bubbly about the fact that it happened and for half an hour we got to see everything good about Oamaru, along with the rest of the nation,” he said.

“What we expect is the profile has been raised and that we are in a great position that we weren’t in six weeks ago.”

Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust chairman Marcus Brown featured on the show, giving some more detail on the town’s history.

“I really hope it has a kick on impact as far as local visitors from Dunedin and Christchurch – that’s one of our strongest markets,” he said.

In the midst of the Fonterra controversy, it was nice to focus on some lighter, more positive news, he said.

By Rebecca Ryan