Bluff projects at a standstill

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    EFFORTS to revitalise Bluff have stalled.

    Awarua Developments Ltd (ADL) had suspended its operation due largely to a lack of funding, former projects co-ordinator Amy Strongman said.

    “We kept hitting road blocks,” she said.

    “We just ran out of time on some things and it all comes back to money. You need money to get these things off the ground.”

    ADL was set up by representatives of Awarua runanga in 2016 to oversee projects designed to rejuvenate the port town through the creation of employment opportunities, diversification of the economy and creation of opportunities for Bluff youth.

    Among its projects were developing Scavenger City, an interactive gaming experience, and oyster-based cosmetics.

    The group had also attempted to establish a public bus service between Bluff and Invercargill, but the service was suspended in December last year after they had been unable to secure long-term funding.

    Miss Strongman said the bus service had been identified as necessary to support the other projects being developed by ADL, but efforts to get the bus service up and running had depleted much of their funding.

    “It did take a big chunk of our money [set aside] for operational costs.”

    The group had identified a suitable location for Scavenger World, but the Invercargill City Council parks department decided to use the space for a dog park, she said.

    The cosmetics project was on hold, but it was available to any runanga membership who wished to develop it further, she said.

    Bluff Oyster World

    Although ADL’s projects were now on hold, there may still be hope for Bluff Oyster World.

    ADL chairwoman Aimee Kaio said on Tuesday, plans for Oyster World were still progressing, with support from Great South, formerly Venture Southland, and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE).

    She was unavailable for further comment when contacted by the Southland Express

    In March this year, the Government committed $18,000 from its $3 billion Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) towards Southland Regional Development Strategy (SoRDS) initiatives – Southland Story, Southland Destination and Bluff Oyster World.

    The proposal to establish Bluff Oyster World was first publicly touted at the SoRDS launch in November 2016.

    Estimated to cost between $5 million to more than $10 million, the concept for Bluff Oyster World was an oyster-based attraction incorporating a visitor information centre, oyster-themed museum, retail space, education/function area and restaurant.

    SoRDS allocated $80,000 to ADL in 2017 to conduct a feasibility study.

    The Southland Express reported in May of that year the feasibility study had been expected to be completed and the location of the development announced in June 2017.

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