Saturday, 28 July 2007


Otautau's population is changing slightly and this could affect its volunteer sector. We've recently experienced a slight increase in our population according to the 2006 census. Yet some volunteer groups are saying that the number of volunteers is down. How can we explain this? Could it be that people are busier or that some are choosing to spend less time volunteering for one specific group?

Otautau relies on its volunteer network for emergency services, recreational programs for children, organised sports events, cultural and heritage programs and other special interests. Many of these groups are also responsible for the maintenance of the buildings they operate from which increases their total costs.

So there is a continual cycle of fundraising to be done every year not to mention hours and hours of committee meetings. It takes a lot of work to keep volunteer groups afloat and responsive to community needs. But as the old saying goes, many hands make light work. So it seems we need to find ways to tap into our increasing population so that we can all share the load.

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

beautiful birds

With very few (if any?) local plants or trees producing nectar or berries at this time of year, I was amazed to find that one couple has kindly answered the call of the wild. Ruby & Colin Clark of Main Street (and some of their immediate neighbours) supply jars full of sugar water to the local birds. They say they often see several bellbirds, a swarm of waxeyes and up to six tui hanging around waiting for their turn to drink the sweet waters. To try this yourself, use 1 cup of sugar and 1 litre of water; stir until dissolved. Keep the container out of reach of cats or dogs. [Thanks to the Clarks for permission to photograph and publish on this blog.]
Top - Bellbird (Anthornis melanura) and two waxeyes (Zosterops lateralis).
Middle - a tui or parson bird (Prosthemadera noaeseelandiae).
Bottom - a bunch of waxeyes.

Monday, 16 July 2007

Old Cemetery - a new beginning?

There were 23 submissions to the SDC regarding the state of the old Otautau Cemetery on their consultation for the draft annual plan. In response to these submissions they have stated:

"Council agreed that cemeteries were important for the District's heritage and commented that as cemeteries are either under the jurisdiction of local Community Boards, Community Development Area Subcommitties or independent trusts/families, finding funding to preserve these areas is a significant issue, particularly in small communities with a small rating base.

"The Council considered that there would be a number of other similar cemeteries throught the District that were not actively maintained by Council but had heritage value and required preservation.

"The Council resolved to consult further with the Wallace Community Board over what could be done with the cemetery, particularly to assess options for obtaining sufficient funding to bring the cemetery up to a maintainable standard and funding for ongoing maintenance.

"The Council also resolved that a scoping report be prepared to assess the number and location of historic cemeteries in the District, who owns and maintains them and an initial assessment of what the likely cost to conserve these may be.

"Since the Council meeting on 27 June 2007 the Wallace Community Board has met to discuss the issue. The Board are proposing to have a working bee for all interested parties to help restore the cemetery one weekend. Prior to this the cemetery site will be visited by one of the Council's Area Engineers and the Work Schemes coordinator to assess the site and formulate a plan for the working bee. The Work Schemes crew will also clear the long grass beforehand. A date for the working bee has not yet been set but if you are interested in being involved you can contact us at the Council on 0800 732 732."

This is a great result! Thanks to all of you who made submissions to the Council. Thanks to the Southland District Council and the Wallace Community Board for listening to these submissions and responding so positively.

If anyone would like to have their submission held at the Otautau Museum in its archive on the old cemetery, please send them a copy or drop it by the Courthouse on Sunday, 2pm-4pm. And in the meantime let's call that 0800 number and get ready to do some work.

the frost continues

Well, we had a big snow in June and ever since then lots of frosty days and nights. This koromiko (Hebe salicifolia) bears the signs of another frosty night.

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Growth in Otautau

The Otautau Community Profile from the 2006 Census isn't available online yet but according to the population table mentioned in the recent Western Southland facility review, the population of Otautau has increased 3% since the last census in 2001. This is remarkable news because our population had been steadily declining since the 1970s. It is even more remarkable because the other nearby townships have had a loss in population by 10-15% between the 2001 and 2006 census: Riverton -10%, Tuatapere -15%, Nightcaps -10%, and Ohai -11%. So we are doing well!

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Where is the Great South Basin?

The biggest news in Southland today is the contracts awarded to two energy companies to drill for oil and gas in the Great South Basin. But for those of us who don't know where this 'big basin' is, I found this very handy map. The basin covers 100,000 sq kilometers. I wonder if any equipment or structures they plan to build will be visible from the mainland coast and Rakiura. What we're willing to do for our cars! Of course on the other hand, it does mean jobs and that's so important to Invercargill. Click on the image to enlarge.

Hard to find books - auction vs internet

Sometimes people flock to auctions for those rare or hard to find books when they could just as easily buy them on the internet.

There's a very good search engine for rare and hard to find books called the Advanced Book Exchange (ABE). They list books from all over the world including New Zealand. Very often the price will be less than what you end up paying at an auction, especially if the auction is well-attended with eager buyers interested in the very same books.

Here is the ABE link: If you'd like to limit your search to only New Zealand bookstores just click on the 'Advanced Search' option.

Monday, 9 July 2007

Facility Inventory

In April, Venture Southland came to Otautau, Riverton and Tuatapere to conduct an inventory of the sports and community facilities in our areas. Their report has been written and should be available in hard copy at the SDC office. It is available in pdf to download on the Venture Southland website:

Click on 'Western Facility Review - Part 1' and 'Western Facility Review - Part 2'.

If you would like to give additional feedback on this inventory, to correct information or just give your two cents, contact Bobbi Brown, Community Development Planner, (03) 211-1411 or

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