A report says a Dark Sky reserve will provide a shot in the arm for the Wairarapa economy. PHOTO/FILE

Stars align for economic boost

Wairarapa can expect a $1.2 billion economic boost and 700 extra jobs from the proposed Dark Sky reserve within 10 years, according to a study.

If the proposal is successful, Wairarapa would be one of just 14 International Dark Sky Reserves around the world.

International Dark Sky Reserve status can only be achieved through very low levels of light pollution and strong community support, including adoption of an outdoor lighting management plan.

Consultants JMG said in a report the reserve would generate economic benefits over its first decade.

The report said an additional 1.2 billion tourist dollars and the possibility of 700 extra jobs could come over 10 years.

“We see the study as a major step towards gaining dark sky reserve status in southern Wairarapa initially and offering a solid guide for the way ahead not only for our group, but for local councils, for business and the community,” Dark Sky Society secretary Ray Lilley said.

“A better living environment for people and helping preserve our wonderful natural environment are goals our group set right at the start of the project.

“Sustainability is a key outcome for any economic growth and development that flows from the idea which was first initiated just two years ago.

“We are delighted that all the local councils are playing their parts in the project.”

Lilley said the project had support from central government.

The Department of Conservation, New Zealand Transport Agency, and Heritage New Zealand have helped get the plan realised.

The society secured $122,000 in funding – $100,000 from the Provincial Growth Fund with additional support from private funders, towards its goal.