MORE than $500,000 has been injected into improving and maintaining Stewart Island’s infrastructure since the Stewart Island/Rakiura Visitor Levy was introduced in 2012.
“[The levy] is proving its worth for the community of Stewart Island. It is a way of getting some money from people who are using the facilities there to continue the maintenance so the costs don’t fall on the locals,” Stewart Island/Rakiura Visitor Levy Subcommittee chairwoman Julie Keast said.
“[The project applications] coming through now [for funding] are very big-ticket items.”
The visitor levy fund supports activities and facilities used by, or for the benefit of, visitors to Stewart Island and projects which mitigate the adverse effects of visitors on the environment. The levy of $5 applies to everyone who visits Stewart Island, except those exempt under the Stewart Island/Rakiura Visitor Levy Empowerment Act 2012.
The Stewart Island/Rakiura Visitor Levy Subcommittee, charged with deciding which projects receive funding, has allocated a total of $571,353.62 since the levy began, including this year’s allocation. The subcommittee prioritises applications for projects which demonstrate the widest public benefit.
A Southland District Council (SDC) spokeswoman said in the latest round of funding in late June, the Stewart Island/Rakiura Visitor Levy Subcommittee approved $171,863 in funding for eight projects ranging from a jetty upgrade to walking track maintenance, visitor information resources and the Halfmoon Bay Habitat Restoration Project.
The largest grant was to the Stewart Island Jetties Subcommittee, allocated $80,000 for the Ulva Island jetty rebuild.
The subcommittee includes representatives from the SDC, Stewart Island/Rakiura Community Board, Stewart Island Flights, Real Journeys and ISS-McKay cruise ship operator.