Stewart Island / Rakiura has a unique opportunity to be internationally recognised as a place of outstanding sky quality.
Such recognition will assist in attracting further visitors to Rakiura to see the night sky and will improve the quality of life for residents of Stewart Island.
Two important aspects are essential to allow such an opportunity to progress. Firstly, an accurate measurement of the night sky quality is required and secondly, the need to demonstrate community support for the creation of a Dark Sky Sanctuary. Venture Southland has supported and managed the project and has commissioned an assessment of the night sky quality - this has proven to be world-class and it is one of Stewart Island/Rakiura’s natural advantages. A sanctuary would provide the ideal opportunity to showcase the special characteristics of the southern night sky, and for Stewart Island to become known as the ideal setting for night sky observation and a destination for unencumbered views of the Aurora Australis.
The research findings, which were completed by an expert consultant, have been reported back to Stewart Island Promotion Association and the Stewart Island/Rakiura Community Board, and on the 30 November 2017 a community meeting was held to discuss the opportunity to establish a Dark Sky Sanctuary. The proposal has received very positive support from the local leaders. If this proposal proceeds, it is envisaged that the project will be funded from grants and donations.
This report provides a work plan toward achieving dark sky accreditation should the community wish to pursue this.
Community consultation is being undertaken in December - January 2018.