Viaducts trust needs new blood - operators

NEIL RATLEY
Last updated 05:00 22/02/2013

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Two south coast tourism operators have called for a shakeup of the board of trustees tasked with preserving four historic viaducts.

Hump Ridge Track manager Ali King and Wairaurahiri Jet owner Joyce Kolk said they believed it was not too late to secure the long-term future of the Percy Burn and three other south coast viaducts, but an infusion of new blood was needed on the Port Craig Viaducts Charitable Trust.

The two operators, who said they were also personally passionate about the future of the viaducts, had offered their services.

But their offer to join the board of trustees has been met with scepticism from the board's chairman.

Trust chairman Tom Pryde said he was not sure if the pair would have the connections to be able to raise the money needed to save the viaducts from closure.

It has been estimated almost $2.6 million would be needed for the viaducts' restoration.

"The trust is open to new trustees but any new trustees need to be connected to people who can open up the doors to millions of dollars," Mr Pryde said.

"It's not about quantity. Quality and contacts is what is crucial."

Ms Kolk said a lack of action from the trust had put the future of the viaducts, in particular the Percy Burn, in doubt.

"This is a trust with only a handful of trustees and no presence," she said.

In a letter to trust secretary Steve Canny, Mr King and Ms Kolk say they appreciated the effort of the trust but new blood was needed to make sure the viaducts stayed in use for the following generation.

The letter originally called for the trustees to step down but a response from Mr Canny persuaded Ms Kolk and Mr King to put those demands on hold.

The pair had also called for a public meeting in Tuatapere on March 8, inviting the current trustees to attend, but the meeting has been postponed until the end of next month after a discussion with Mr Canny.

"We have been asked by the trust to hold off because we were informed by Mr Canny it was in talks with possible funders to secure the money needed to save the Percy Burn and other viaducts," Ms Kolk said.

Mr King said there was not too much detail yet but was told it was all in hand.

"I was told it would be known at the end of March if the funding had been secured."

Mr Canny was not available for comment yesterday.

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- The Southland Times

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