Kircher leading Oamaru online charge

WAITAKI MAYOR: Gary Kircher is at the head of Oamaru's efforts to be a gigatown.
WAITAKI MAYOR: Gary Kircher is at the head of Oamaru's efforts to be a gigatown.

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher is taking the Gigatown competition very seriously and plans to do as much as he can to lead Oamaru to victory.

The social media-based Gigatown competition sees points awarded locally every time #gigatown[town] is added onto the end of posts on Facebook and Twitter.

Mr Kircher is heading up the Gigatown Oamaru community board, which also includes local businessman Lance Streeter and entrepreneur Nicolas Erdody, Derek Golding, Simon Berry, Annabel Berry and James Glucksman.

"We want to send a very clear message we are very serious about this," says Mr Kircher.

"We have got a great community here and it's a chance to prove we can do very well ... I'm proud to be representing the whole community by chairing the group."

He is under no illusion just how big it would be for Oamaru to take out the competition and sees huge benefits in being the first town to enjoy lightning fast internet.

"I see the potential as being huge and definitely from the competition's early days I have been wanting to make sure I can help us get a victory.

"In general terms there is the chance to attract a lot of business opportunities and from a social point of view it's going to help improve how connected people and businesses are ... the potential is just huge."

There's still a long way to go however, with the competition not set to finish until next September.

The five towns with the most points will then go through a round of national voting, with the winner being named in December 2014.

Mr Kircher says the community board is developing several ideas to help promote the competition locally and hopes to work in partnership with several groups.

"We are working on developing a more complete way of working with other groups such as schools. We want as many people involved as possible, such as school and business groups. Basically, we want the whole community to be involved.

The competition has seen several towns enter into a war of words, with Timaru-based IT specialist, Angus Westgarth, saying he "would really hate us to lose to Oamaru," adding that he doesn't want a "backwards Victorian town to steal our thunder".

Mr Kircher responded to Mr Westgarth's comments with a laugh.

"I guess in some ways, the less said the better. But on the other hand the fact we have got culture and heritage we are proud of is something they should take note of.

"Winning the TVNZ Sharpest Town competition and being the leaders in this competition shows nothing more needs to be said really."

Oamaru has since been knocked to second position behind Wanaka on the leaderboard. They are followed by Porirua, Palmerston North, Gisborne.

Timaru, which officially launched its efforts on Wednesday, has more than 50,000 points, placing it eighth on the leaderboard.


South Canterbury