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National and international news reported at the weekend that when Te Anau residents put their clocks forward for daylight saving this coming weekend, they would stay there for good.
Great South tourism marketing manager Anke Ruwette yesterday said the revelation was actually a public relations act, the result of working with Christchurch advertising agency Strategy Creative.
"We’ve been wanting to do something about Te Anau to get the word out there," she said.
"A lot of New Zealanders don’t know where Te Anau is."
While there had been many reports of visiting places where tourism destinations had suffered at the hands of Covid-19, the town was looking for something that was positive and uplifting.
"We wanted to get the word out there and we wanted to be clever about it."
The clocks staying forward story was part of a bigger campaign that would revolve around time, she said.
It would look at questions such as "what is time?" and "what can we actually do with all this time we now have?".
The campaign would also focus on the need to spend time together, she said.
The aim was to have New Zealanders realise what an amazing place Fiordland was, not only to get them to visit but also to convince them to stay for longer.
"They think about Te Anau kind of as a gateway. We want them to see it as a destination where you base yourself from."
Southland Mayor Gary Tong said while it might have been a bit of an April Fool’s announcement, there was a serious side to what was happening in Te Anau and the locals had all been keen to get some attention in a positive way.
He said a couple of media outlets did not want to talk to him when they found out the dramatic policy shift was a publicity stunt.
"That’s fine, that’s their choice."
However, he had also received lots of positive feedback about it.
"And that is what it was for."
Te Anau School principal Grant Excell said while the publicity was "just a bit of fun" he also thought it would be a great idea.
"There’s so much to do here that we do need an extra hour in the day."
He said there had been much lighthearted banter around the township after the announcement.
"I think most people see it for what it is."
It was great the town had received some national coverage.
"We’ve got people talking about our place — we could do with some visitors."
The only problem he could forsee if the permanent time change were to happen was pupils having to come to school in the dark on winter mornings.