It’s been hard to miss the throng of cyclists in and around the district over the last six months with over 83,000 cyclists descending on the Lake Dunstan Trail alone. In May, this trail was awarded with the NZ ‘Great Ride’ status by the Government. The Central Otago Heritage Trust (COHT) congratulates the Central Otago Queenstown Trail Network Trust for their vision and hard work to make this ride such a success. In our Summer edition we highlighted the heritage sites documented on the storyboards along the trail. Since then, the Otago Goldfields Heritage Trust have undertaken further fieldwork as part of the Heritage Site Review, recording many more sites adjacent to the trail.

We’ve teamed up with our local museums to bring in local and regional guest speakers to cover a range of exciting topics in our Winter Series events. Our AGM on 20 July will take place immediately before the first event at Clyde Museum, ‘Central Otago’s pre-historic treescape’, with palaeontologist Mike Pole. You can find out more about these events here.

We are pleased to welcome the Central Otago Museums’ Trust as a new member. Amanda Griffin started her role as the Museums’ Coordinator in June. She brings a wealth of experience in working in and alongside small Museums around the Taranaki region. We look forward to working with Amanda in her new role.

Interviewing in the Oral History Programme has recently re-booted after a pause due to the pandemic. We consulted with volunteers on how they would like to operate under the current Orange Traffic Light setting and have developed health and safety protocols for face-to-face contexts. I know many volunteers are excited about getting back into it. Funding for this programme received a further boost. On behalf of COHT, I would like to express our gratitude to Promote Dunstan for their recent $5000 donation.

As a result of Otago Museum’s Tū Tonu Project feedback, a region-wide oral history network has been established. This is proving to be a great forum to share ideas and voice challenges. The group, comprising over 20 representatives, are at various stages of developing their oral history repositories. A common challenge across the network, is identifying an affordable online platform from which oral histories can be disseminated. It would make sense for the network to share a region-wide solution. The Tū Tonu project has also recently launched a region-wide programme of events, tailored to meet the needs of the Central Otago heritage sector. We are working closely with the project coordinator, Kimberley Stephenson, to help make these a success.

Central Otago District Council has made considerable progress in developing planning guidelines for our five Heritage Precincts. Glen Hazelton, the key author of these guidelines, has attended two COHT Board meetings to present drafts for our feedback. We value the opportunity to work with Council on heritage matters in the District Plan Review process. We’d also like to thank Council for their ongoing financial support. The confirmation of further funding through the ‘Community Fund’ ensures that we can continue to achieve tasks set out in our Strategic Plan.

Last month, Maggie Hope, our Heritage Coordinator, attended a Heritage Hui in Oamaru, organised by the Timaru Civic Trust and the Mid-Canterbury Historic Places Trust. Maggie was asked to present on how COHT operates to bring the heritage community together. Participants in this hui plainly saw the strengths of a coordinated approach and resolved to meet again to get started on establishing an Oamaru Heritage Network to include representatives from across the sector.

David Ritchie, Chair, Central Otago Heritage Trust