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Light pollution in Wairarapa region tackled

International Dark Sky Week aims to raise awareness of and reduce light pollution – to protect human health and enhance night sky viewing. PHOTO/STOCK.ADOBE.COM

An international movement encouraging people to “discover the night” is being observed in Wairarapa for the first time.

International Dark Sky Week, which began last Friday, is held during the week of the new moon each April – and aims to raise awareness about the negative impacts of and solutions to light pollution.

To mark this year’s event, the Wairarapa Dark Sky Association will be distributing a home lighting guide to every letterbox in South Wairarapa and Carterton.

The pamphlet sets out key ways each household can reduce night-time light pollution – and so enhance star-gazing and night sky viewing for everyone.

Association chairwoman Viv Napier said the households receiving the pamphlets will be the first to become part of the proposed Wairarapa Dark Sky Reserve – an initiative begun four years ago to “preserve, protect, enhance and promote the fabulous dark skies that grace our part of the heavens”.

Areas with Dark Sky Reserve status have recognised policies in place to significantly reduce light pollution and educate the public about the importance of dark skies.

Light pollution has far-reaching effects and consequences: it disrupts wildlife, impacts human health by disturbing sleep patterns, creates financial burden (by adding to energy bills), and contributes to climate change.

To help reduce light pollution, Carterton and South Wairarapa district councils have put in place outdoor lighting regulations which help control the type and output of outdoor lights.

The councils’ collaboration has set the foundation for Wairarapa being able to seek Dark Sky Reserve status from the International Dark-Sky Association.

Only the McKenzie-Tekapo area has such status for its skies in New Zealand so far – but about a dozen other groups are now pursuing the opportunity.

In the meantime, the Wairarapa Dark Sky Association pamphlets recommend a “home lighting inventory” to determine whether your home is night sky friendly – and offer simple solutions to adapting home and workplace lighting.

As the International Dark-Sky Association said: “a few simple changes can lead to lighting that is both beautiful and functional, without contributing to excessive light pollution.”

  • International Dark Sky week runs from April 22 to 30. For more information, go to https://wairarapadarksky.nz/

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