Welcome to the Kūaotunu Dark Sky Community!

 

About Us

Our Objective

Our objective is to gain accreditation for around 7,000 hectares of the Kūaotunu Peninsula as an International Dark Sky Association (IDA) Dark Sky Community.

There are significant benefits associated with this recognition – economic, health, cultural and environmental – which are already enjoyed by other Dark Sky areas in NZ such as Tekapo, Great Barrier and Stewart Island.

The process to achieve IDA accreditation is relatively complex and a project has been underway since mid 2022 to deliver the outcomes needed to achieve this accreditation.

We hope you will support us!

OUR Aspiration

Our aspiration is that the Dark Sky Community will be a base from which people can build an understanding and appreciation of the astronomical, cultural and historical aspects of the stars.

Tātai Aroraki (Māori Astronomy), navigation and story telling have a particular place in our world view, and can contribute much to the enjoyment of the night sky for locals and visitors alike.

Our night sky has a unique connection to both Māori and European history – as the first landing point for the earliest Māori navigators and the site of Cook’s observation of the Transit of Mercury.

There is much to learn and appreciate.

    Our people

    As usual in these situations, committed individuals have been preparing the ground for many years.

    Responsibility has now passed to the Project Working Group – volunteers representing Ngāti Hei, the communities on the Peninsula, DoC and Destination Hauraki Coromandel, supported by TCDC officers.

    Funding from Destination Hauraki Coromandel has enabled us to commission consultants to carry out key aspects of the work required.

    We are working under the auspices of the Kūaotunu Biosphere Working Group, which has Dark Sky protection  as one of its six “pillars”.

    Our promise

    For almost every homeowner in the proposed Dark Sky Community area there will be literally NO IMPACT.   

    While the plan change will establish new policies and standards for lighting, almost all the lighting in the area already meets the standards and the standards themselves are largely common sense and good practice.

    If minor changes are required (such as shielding external lighting), there is a 10 year timeframe for completion.

    We hope that this site and other activities and resources will address any concerns, but PLEASE contact us for any further information you need.

    Upcoming Events

    After the hugely successful Easter event at Ōpito over Easter, we are repeating our Matariki Celebration at Kūaotunu at 5am on July 15th.  Keep an eye on the Facebook page for any changes due to weather.

    Facebook Feed

    Kūaotunu Dark Sky Community Facebook Group

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    Join us on Facebook

    7 months ago
    Paul Cook

    A great Matariki event this morning with around 60 attendees braving the early morning start including Councillor Deli Connell and MP Scott Simpson. The weather wasn't completely co-operative with quite a few clouds around, but we did get good views of Jupiter and a fleeting glance of Matariki, and the sausages and coffee were well received by everyone. A big THANKYOU to all those who came - it is a really important part of our application for DarkSky accreditation to demonstrate strong community support, and we are certainly doing that. ... See MoreSee Less

    A great Matariki event this morning with around 60 attendees braving the early morning start including Councillor Deli Connell and MP Scott Simpson.  The weather wasnt completely co-operative with quite a few clouds around, but we did get good views of Jupiter and a fleeting glance of Matariki, and the sausages and coffee were well received by everyone.  A big THANKYOU to all those who came - it is a really important part of our application for DarkSky accreditation to demonstrate strong community support, and we are certainly doing that.Image attachmentImage attachment+2Image attachment
    8 months ago
    Paul Cook

    Another Dark Sky Community event scheduled for early morning Saturday July 15th - a great way to celebrate the Matariki Holiday! ... See MoreSee Less

    Another Dark Sky Community event scheduled for early morning Saturday July 15th - a great way to celebrate the Matariki Holiday!
    9 months ago
    Paul Cook

    The Kūaotunu Dark Sky (KDS) Trust has a significant role to play gong forward, as can be seen from the objectives set out in the Trust deed:
    · to achieve and maintain International Dark Sky Community Status for the area defined in the map attached in the Schedule (along with any additional or altered area as the Trustees may determine in the future) with the International Dark Sky Association;
    · to advocate for the reduction of light pollution and artificial light at night (ALAN) in our natural and built environments, including the relevant lighting of urban streets, rural roads, residences, businesses, public venues, and spaces;
    · to protect the dark skies of the Kūaotunu Peninsula district in collaboration with the Thames Coromandel District Council and the Department of Conservation;
    · to work with mana whenua to recognise the cultural significance and natural heritage of dark skies;
    · to promote an appreciation of the night sky, of the environment and of the science of astronomy, including the effects of light pollution on the environment and the night sky, by helping organise special educational and/or cultural events for the general public of New Zealand from time to time;
    · to produce long-term social and health benefits and better protection of the Kūaotunu Peninsula environment and ecological systems;
    · to report on our activities to interested parties including Thames Coromandel District Council, Destination Hauraki Coromandel, the Department of Conservation, Environment Waikato, Dark Sky Network NZ, the International Dark Sky Association, and any other organisation as may be appropriate;
    · to embrace and educate our community and the wider New Zealand public with events to understand the importance of protecting the beauty within our night sky landscape.
    We are looking forward to working with all our supporters towards achieving these objectives!
    ... See MoreSee Less

    Our People

    Alastair Brickall

    Alastair Brickall

    Project Working Group Member

    Alastair is well known in Kūaotunu as a passionate advocate of Dark Skies, and owner of the astrotourism business Stargazers.  After years of lobbying and advocating, his long term vision is close to becoming a reality!

    Paul Cook

    Paul Cook

    Project Working Group Member

    Paul has been active for many years on the Ōpito Bay Ratepayers Committee, and more recently on the Kūaotunu Biosphere Working Group.  He is hoping his extensive business and governance background will compensate for his lack of Astronomy knowledge!

    Joe Davis, MNZM

    Joe Davis, MNZM

    Adviser

    Ngāti Hei kaumātua, Joe Davis, represents Ngāti Hei on the Hauraki Māori Trust Board and is a treaty negotiator for Ngāti Hei and Ngāpuhi. He’s a member of the Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve Committee and served for three terms on Waikato Regional Council’s Coromandel Catchment Committee. He was also an inaugural member of the Sea Change – Tai Timu Tai Pari Stakeholder Working Group.

    Cara Jordan

    Cara Jordan

    Project Working Group Member

    Cara is the manager of corporate services for Destination Hauraki Coromandel.  She has been a passionate advocate for the Dark Skies initiative, and was directly responsible for securing funding for the second stage of the project.  She is particularly focussed on astro-tourism opportunities that the Dark Skies Community will deliver.

    Ed Scorgie

    Ed Scorgie

    Project Working Group Member

    Ed is a partner with Auckland legal firm Chapman Tripp, but first and foremost a dedicated amateur astronomer, with a full observatory built into his bach at Ōpito Bay.

    Heather Bruce

    Heather Bruce

    Project Observer

    Heather has been an ardent supporter through the process of getting the project underway, and while unable for probity reasons to be a member of the Project Working Group, has accepted our invitation to act as an official observer on behalf of TCDC

    Lynette Day

    Lynette Day

    Project Support

    Lynette is the International Marketing Manager at the Coromandel, and has been enthusiastic in her support of the Project Working Group, particularly in respect of  marketing and branding activities.