The Clutha Development Trust (CDT) was formed more than 18
months ago with the mandate to enhance and support the
district's tourism and primary industries, business and
community development and job generation. Southern Rural Life
talked to its chairman Rob Hewett, a farmer from Manuka
Gorge, and its chief executive, Linda Moore, about the
trust's achievements to date.
''What's important to the district is important to us,''
Clutha Development Trust chairman Rob Hewett says.
Following its settling-in period, the trust members have been
They have developed a tourism strategy for the district,
something that had not been done before.
The strategy identified the need to tell the rest of the
world about South Otago, how much it had to offer tourists,
and that it was more than just a spot on the road between
Dunedin and Southland.
''We needed to have our own identity,'' chief executive Linda
She said they had already hosted inbound tourism operators
and others from the tourism industry on familiarisation
trips, promoted the area through Trenz, the biggest tourism
showcase in New Zealand, and developed packages of
accommodation and activities, with subsequent positive
''We wanted to develop a strategy to encourage people to stay
in the Catlins, visit the district and not just pass
through,'' Ms Moore said.
''They did not even know we had accommodation here.''
Mr Hewett had raised the issue of charging visitors to use
the currently free facilities in the area to cover
maintenance costs of the car parks and other amenities.
He said international tourists were used to paying for access
to similar attractions overseas and would be happy to do so
in New Zealand.
The trust was also promoting the district within its schools
to give its pupils a better knowledge of their home.
''What is going to happen in the Clutha district will have a
significant impact on the next generation,'' he said.
The trust has also turned its attention to the district's
primary industries and has assembled an agribusiness database
as it recognises the importance of agriculture to the region.
The trust intended to look at wetlands, catchments,
biodiversity, and water quality and nutrient management
throughout the district and it would work with various
farming groups to better implement that management and the
necessary mitigation and education.
''We will also be looking at issues around winter feed
practices and what the Otago Regional Council's 6A plan means
The trust was also involved with Farm IQ at Telford, DairyNZ
and Beef and Lamb New Zealand programmes.
They have also targeted forestry and, in particular, the
possibility of making biofuel out of forest waste.
Ms Moore said the trust provided support for local business
One of the key problems they wanted to address was the need
to attract more people to live in the area.
While those who were unemployed in the district chose not to
work, many of those who did work in the district also lived
in other communities.
They wanted to see more people encouraged to move to the
Clutha region and spend their money in the district through
incentives or better housing stock.
They have identified the need to encourage the region's youth
to return home after leaving to get an education.
The area has several issues that needed to be highlighted,
including inadequate rural broadband services and reduced
central government funding for local roads to be introduced
during the next few years.
As a consequence either ratepayers would have an increased
burden to fund road maintenance, or the roading stock would
become inferior, which was not good for the various primary
industries who transport product to clients along those
Then there is the ageing electricity line network, with
increasing maintenance and upgrading ''a looming problem''.
''We can see farmers and small rural communities really
suffering [in the future] because of those three things,'' he