Street light fittings to become LED in Mackenzie District

A dark sky park allows us to enjoy the beauty of the night sky, such as is already the case in the Mackenzie Basin where ...
Fraser Gunn

A dark sky park allows us to enjoy the beauty of the night sky, such as is already the case in the Mackenzie Basin where the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve protects the region from light pollution.

The Mackenzie District will soon have new state of the art LED lights after getting a funding boost from the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA).

NZTA has agreed to fund 85 per cent of the cost of changing existing street lighting to LED until the end of the 2017/2018 financial year nationwide.

An NZTA spokeswoman said through NZTA there was an 85 per cent subsidy through the Transport Agency's Financial Assistance Rate (FAR) for councils to upgrade lighting/ traditional luminaries to the LED lights.

She said LED lights lasted longer, used half the amount of power and required less maintenance.

The 85 per cent subsidy was only available until the end of the current National Land Transport Program at this stage, she said.  

The standard FAR is around 50 per cent and the increased subsidy was announced earlier this year for the lighting upgrades. 

According to the agenda for the council's Assets and Services Committee meeting on June 13, 128 of 1002 fittings had been changed in the Mackenzie District so far.  

Each fitting was worth approximately $600 for the removal and supply of a new fitting and installation. 

It was estimated $79,000 would be needed to change out the remainder of the street lights.

Council would look to do this replacement as a minor improvement project in the next financial year.

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The benefit of changing out the existing light fittings was that LED light fittings are more energy efficient and require significantly less maintenance, which normally costs a significant amount due to travel within the district. This would include overhead fittings and bollards. 

The change out of the proposed LED fittings complied with the dark sky reserve requirements as LED lights have less light pollution. 

The Mackenzie Basin was declared the Southern Hemisphere's only International Dark Sky Reserve in 2013 and attracts tourists from around the world. It is one of only 11 of its kind. 

In 1981 a lighting ordinance was incorporated into the Mackenzie District Plan, which ensures the strict control of light pollution in the area. 

 - Stuff

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