Strong case for Stewart Island Dark Sky Sanctuary bid

The fate of Stewart Island’s Dark Sky Sanctuary bid is expected to be revealed before the end of the year.

Supporters remain confident the island will soon have the highest status recognised by the International Dark Sky Association.

The Association defines a Dark Sky Sanctuary as “public or private land that has an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and a nocturnal environment that is protected for its scientific, natural, or educational value, its cultural heritage and/or public enjoyment”.

A draft application was submitted to the association by Venture Southland earlier this month.

Venture Southland tourism product development coordinator Amie Reid said they were waiting for feedback from the association.

“Every indication we’ve had so far is that the case for Rakiura is a strong one,” Ms Reid said.

The sanctuary would not only profit the island community, it would also help to protect the night sky from light pollution.

“We want to make sure that view they are currently getting will be there for all time to come,” Ms Reid said.

The final application is due in September – the decision is expected in December.

If successful, New Zealand will have two of the five Dark Sky Sanctuaries in the world.

Stewart Island/Rakiura Community Board chairperson Jon Spraggon said a successful proposal could prove a boon for the community.

If approved, the sanctuary would attract people to the island in the shoulder seasons as there would be more opportunities to view the night’s sky, he said.