Discovering area’s “incredible story”

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Five questions with Central Otago Heritage Trust co-ordinator Alice Spiers, of Wanaka.

Q: How do you view Central Otago’s heritage and what made you take on this role?

I am constantly fascinated by and compelled to Central Otago’s rich heritage. From Clyde’s historic township to fishermen’s huts at various Central Otago dams to the archaeological sites associated with gold-mining heritage, there is an incredible story to discover here in Central Otago.

I was keen to take on the role of heritage co-ordinator as I had previously been assisting the trust with the development of the Central Otago heritage strategy and plan. Having been so closely involved with the development of these documents, I would have been disappointed not to continue what we had started. I am excited by the prospect of what can be achieved through this role and I am ready to hit the ground running in 2019!

On a personal level, I have had a genuine interest in heritage since I was young. While studying law, I reviewed the Resource Management Act in relation to built heritage, and my art history honours thesis was titled: “The crib in Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes: an unprotected example of New Zealand’s heritage”.

Q: What challenges are facing heritage buildings and sites in Central Otago at present?

The heritage trust has long advocated for a heritage site review to be undertaken in Central Otago. In light of Central Otago’s rapid growth and expansion, we have grave concerns for Central Otago’s numerous heritage resources, many of which are now at risk because they are not identified on a heritage list, and therefore are not afforded any protection.

Due to the absence of a comprehensive heritage inventory, the Central Otago heritage community is currently finding it difficult to apply for funding for heritage projects because funding bodies do not feel they have the knowledge, and therefore ability, to make informed assessments of the value and merit of funding applications for heritage projects.

Q: What is the Central Otago Heritage Trust’s role and how is it hoping to help protect the district’s heritage?

The trust is an overarching body elected by Central Otago’s major heritage organisations to represent their collective interests.

It hopes to help protect the district’s heritage through the Central Otago Heritage Strategy and Plan, which will hopefully become the first port of call for the community to understand what the current issues are and what is being done to address this.

Q: What positive things are happening in the heritage sector and what initiatives are coming up?

The trust is currently co-ordinating the formation of the Central Otago Oral History Working Group, which will engage with people and organisations in the district who would like to make oral history recordings, as well as manage the appropriate storage of these recordings.

It is also proposing to work with the Otago Goldfields Heritage Trust to identify and record Central Otago’s heritage sites in the online database ArchSite. This will become an invaluable resource for Central Otago and wider New Zealand.

It is also planning a heritage training day for late 2019, and there are hopes this will become an annual event.

Q: Outside of this role, what are your passions and interests, and what do you love about Central Otago?

I enjoy visiting art galleries and exhibitions. I also have a soft spot for fashion and love reading and learning about fashion designers and their creative process, watching fashion documentaries and curling up with the latest copy of British Vogue

I also enjoy running for my health and wellbeing, but as a new mum, lately there has been more walking with a pram than running!

I love Central Otago wine and our delicious stonefruit in summer, the landscape in all seasons and weather and the interesting, talented and welcoming people that make up this community.