Community Outlook: 20-08-23

Council Meeting: 08 August 2023

Brief points:

  • 2 Community Board members were absent from the meeting.
  • A public presentation was provided by Dylan Graves.
  • No decisions were made during the meeting.

The following reports were received by the Community Board, with some general discussion around each:

  • Landscapes project – review of the natural features and landscapes chapter of the District Plan – update 2023
  • Community Board Reporting – dated 2 August 2023.
  • Council Update – dated 21 July 2023.
  • Chairpersons’s Report

Next meeting: 3:30pm, Tuesday 3 October at the Waiau Town and Country Club (Note: this location is subject to change for the next meeting, it may be moved to Orepuki hall.)

Some points I think worth highlighting to the community for consideration follow:

Heritage Orchard

During the public forum section of the meeting, details presented appeared to indicate that there are changes being proposed to the area around the Heritage Orchard. The suggestion that Permaculture practices be put in place, where limited mowing and a “hedgerow” be developed around the fence line were presented along with some other vague suggestions. Council staff identified issues with the suggested change to mowing, as it is currently under contract.

It appears this has already started, as there are plantings along the fence line around the Orchard. My concern with this is that Permaculture should have a plan/design before being put into practice – if a plan/design exists, surely the community should be privy to it and have some input? Permaculture often results in what many see as “messy/untidy” gardens – does this match with what the community wants with a “Tuatapere Revitalisation“? If Permaculture is initially setup by volunteers, what happens if/when the volunteers disappear? Who would manage it, and at what cost?


The topic of footpaths was raised at one stage of the meeting, and Council Staff appeared to be making excuses as to why no progress has been made. Suggestions that Winton had a bigger problem, and that funding from Waka Kotahi (NZTA) was an issue, were raised.

There was mention of new footpaths for Papatotara Road and Grove Burn Road. Why are new footpaths being considered when existing, more used ones, are not being maintained and are in need of repair!?

Railway Building

As some may be aware, the Southland District Council applied for and received funding from the Governments “Better-off funding” initiative for what the Council labelled as “Tuatapere Railway Station Project” for the sum of $310,000. Just what defines this project, I am unsure. Is it part of the Tuatapere Revitalisation project, which has gone silent for nearly 12 months?

The community has been left in the dark on what is happening. There has been some maintenance on the Railway building, but a brief mention of problems found with the building’s roof were raised during the Community Board meeting. The issue around land ownership between the Railway building and the Shed have not been addressed. It appears that Council is beginning to push the Community Board to progress this project, so let’s hope we hear something about it soon.

Some points to considered that were raised by Council staff back in April 2019 when the cost to upgrade the Railway building was estimated to be $160,000 (likely much more now):

  • remedial work on the Railway building is a considerable amount of expenditure to bring the building to a state where it is still not potentially fit for occupation
  • without clear understanding of what the building will be used for, any estimate is only an indication of the starting point for any future development
  • if a decision was made on the future use of the building, there would be considerable additional costs incurred to get it to a level that would meet the necessary building and compliance standards
  • costs are not limited to structural upgrades, but also any consent compliance associated with the activity the building would be used for
  • consideration must be given to where the Railway building fits into the plan for other developments of assets within the community (does a plan exist?)
  • a decision needs to be made about whether the building is a strategic asset that is going to support future growth within the community
  • the ongoing financial commitment that investing in the Railway building would represent to the community in terms of maintenance and occupation must be considered
  • there is a level of risk associated with the building to the community that needs to be fully justified before progressing with any future development
  • due to the costs, Council staff caution whether this is a prudent investment or are there other projects that would be of higher priority and would benefit from a similar level of investment.

If you have any questions, or would like me to raise any points at the next Community Board meeting, please email me at

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