Unfilled roles sink heritage committee

Former Oamaru Victorian Heritage Celebrations Incorporated Society chairwoman Marise Martin is...
Former Oamaru Victorian Heritage Celebrations Incorporated Society chairwoman Marise Martin is frustrated by the lack of nominations to fill positions on the society's organising committee. PHOTO: DANIEL BIRCHFIELD
Oamaru's Victorian heritage celebrations are ``not dead in the water'' even after the committee that organises them folded this week, a former committee member and chairwoman says.

At the annual meeting of the Oamaru Victorian Heritage Celebrations Incorporated Society in Oamaru on Monday, no nominations were received to fill spaces available on the organising committee, made vacant through rotation and retirement.

Former chairwoman Marise Martin, who resigned after last year's celebrations but chaired Monday's meeting, said the lack of nominations, while unfortunate, did not come as a surprise.

``We knew in advance we were going to struggle to fill the committee and I guess that's for a variety of reasons. But the reality is a committee was formed last year and it was just too small. During the course of the year one person resigned, leaving us with just a quorum. That was a tiny committee to do an enormous volume of work.''

Formed in 1999, the society is tasked with planning and organising the town's annual Victorian heritage celebrations each November.

The committee was made up of four members and Tourism Waitaki representative Lucianne White.

Only one active member remained.

Mrs Martin said the committee required members with an ``understanding of the local history and a passion for our heritage'' in addition to marketing and promotional skills.

``I have no doubts that all those people are still out there in the community, but nobody wants to take the lead role. Frankly, I was gutted. We were very, very disappointed ... that there was no nominations for any roles.''

It was likely the Waitaki District Council-controlled organisation Tourism Waitaki would take over full organisation of this year's celebrations, which were well advanced.

Tourism Waitaki general manager Margaret Munro did not believe the future of the celebrations was at risk.

``The celebrations are not dead in the water. There are opportunities now to rethink the celebrations, to refresh and reinvigorate. The celebrations are about us and about our story and our place.''

Mrs Munro said the celebrations would be discussed at the organisation's board meeting next week.

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher also threw his support behind the celebrations and said the council was discussing how it could best support them.



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