Mayor’s environmental threats at launch

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Southland District’s mayor made a thinly-veiled attack on Milford tunnel and monorail proposals when launching a new vessel on Saturday.

Mayor Frana Cardno was guest of honour in Manapouri at the launch of tourism company Real Journeys’ $5 million catamaran, MV Titiroa.

Cardno – who’s  recently attacked proposals for the Milford-Dart tunnel and a Fiordland monorail – praised Real Journeys as an environmental leader.

“In today’s world, we need those leaders because, more and more, we can see our environment being attacked.

“And this company has shown that they can work in our environment, that they leave it behind as it was before – and this is what we want for future generations.”

Cardno praised the contributions of company founders, the late Les Hutchins and his wife, Olive, Lady Hutchins, who was present at the ceremony.

“As we go up this lake, we can remember Les and Olive, because they were right up there in the ‘save the lakes’ campaign [to prevent the raising of lakes Manapouri and Te Anau for the Manapouri power project].

“I think that their whole caring about their environment really showed there, and that battle was won.

“And we’re going to have other battles, we can all see, in the future, about our World Heritage area.

“But we can use this company as an example that they can work in a World Heritage area and they don’t destroy our environment.”

Cardno also praised Real Journeys for its courage to launch its new vessel in difficult times for tourism.

The MV Titiroa, built in Wanganui, is almost 24m long, 7.5m wide, weighs about 55 tonnes and carries up to 138 passengers.

Its principal role will be carrying visitors on the first leg of their journey to Doubtful Sound, where Real Journeys offers a three-hour cruise.

The company takes about 45,000 passengers a year to Doubtful Sound.

Queenstowner Bill Baylis, who’s chairman of Real Journeys, told guests: “This investment is tangible evidence of our desire to ensure that our plant is of a standard that continues to meet and exceed visitor expectations as we strive to deliver the best experience that we can to those come to those who come to enjoy this special part of New Zealand.

“There’s been a lot of discussion recently about the tourism industry now facing less buoyant times than it has enjoyed in recent years, and there’s no doubt these times are challenging.

“However, our confidence in the long-term future of the tourism industry, and Real Journeys’ place in it, remains solid.”