Arrowtown’s ‘kick in the teeth’

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Arrowtown’s facing political oblivion.

A Queenstown council-appointed independent advisory group has recommended the historic township – which ha always had its own councillor since the days it had its own council – lose its ward and merge into a new ward that even includes far-away Jack’s Point.

The group has concluded the Arrowtown ward should go because its resident population’s 20% short of “fair representation”.

Arrowtown’s current councillor Heath Copland’s unhappy, and former councillors Scott Stevens and David Clarke are spitting tacks.

The latter two are particularly upset no one from Arrowtown was on the advisory group, yet Wanaka had two reps and Glenorchy one.

The group’s recommended that a new Wanaka-Hawea ward have four councillors.

Council media man Jack Barlow says they advertised for expressions of interest, but no one from Arrowtown put themselves forward.

Clarke and Stevens, however, claim no one they know was ever aware this opportunity was available.

Surely, since Arrowtown has a ward, council should have ensured it had a rep on that group, Stevens says.

Surely, since Arrowtown has a ward, council should have ensured it had a rep on that group, Stevens says.

“They didnt even think of us, we were just an after-thought.

“But if you look at what is driving domestic tourism and high-value tourism in this area, in the post-Covid world, it’s places like Arrowtown.

“We are a real town with real people, an amazing history.”

Lopping off the Arrowtown ward, he says, is “literally a kick in the teeth”.

Clarke adds: “We’ve got characteristics that are fragile in terms of heritage protection and landscape protection, and that’s been recognised time and time again, so you need a strong voice on council.

“I know councillors swear their allegiance to the whole district, and that’s fair enough, but the truth is, if you’re a councillor like Scotty and I have been, and you’re in a wider ward representing all these places, it’s quite hard to get the traction we’ve been able to
get with a dedicated councillor.

“Clarke talks of big-budget wins for Arrowtown like the walking track around the Arrow River, pool upgrade and skate park.

He says while his preference is to retain the Arrowtown ward, if they had to be part of a bigger ward, it needs to reflect the make-up of the people who use Arrowtown as their sort of town, and that means the school catchment zone or the [Arrowtown] rugby club
catchment.

It could be called ‘Greater Arrowtown’ or ‘Eastern Whakatipu’, he suggests.

But to throw Jack’s Point into the same proposed four-councillor Kawarau ward as Arrowtown is “bizarre”, he says.

“Putting in Jack’s Point is the real abnormality here, like, really, seriously? Stevens adds.

Arrowtown councillor Heath Copland’s certainly not in support of axing the Arrowtown ward, saying “I think it would be a great shame”.

He notes one criterion for being a standalone ward “comes down to places of unique character”.

“And I firmly believe, of all places in the Basin, Arrowtown certainly is one of unique character, given the history there and given the bustling little village we have, and that’s evidenced of course by our visitor numbers and how it’s become such a destination.”

He thinks this is a better plank to fight on than trying just to widen Arrowtown’s catchment: “I think you’ll be fighting an uphill battle if you keep chasing the numbers.

“I’d hate my legacy to be that I’m the last Arrowtown councillor, that’s for sure, but it’s going to be a fight to try to keep it one way or another.

Asked about the logic of lumping Jack’s Point and Arrowtown into the same ward (along with Gibbston, Lake Hayes Estate, Shotover Country and Arthurs Point), council media man Barlow says the proposed structure of the wards was formulated with the intention of creating “fair and equitable representation based on population numbers and potential areas of commonality, common interest, pressures or issues”.

“In this case, the group felt the larger part of the places named in the proposed Kawarau ward had common issues, such as new development and growth.”

Barlow says the group’s recommendations will be presented to the council on June 30, before going out for consultation from July 5 till August 6.

“We encourage anyone with an opinion on the matter to let us know through the formal consultation process.”

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