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Dark Sky Friendly

Martinborough Top 10 Holiday Park has become the first local business awarded Dark Sky Friendly status in another step toward making South Wairarapa an international dark sky reserve.

Holiday Park co-owner Lisa Cornelissen has signed the Martinborough Dark Sky Society’s charter that requires the business to ensure its lighting meets the rules of the International Dark Sky Association (IDA) for managing night-time light pollution.

A range of local firms are lining up to join the dark sky friendly scheme _ a key requirement of the IDA before it can approve dark sky reserve status for the region.

The rules are to ensure outdoor lighting and fittings comply with international regulations that prevent night sky glow and even lower it by using lower-temperature lights, fitting only down lights or fitting timers so lights are on only when needed.

With international research showing that constant lighting tends to help criminals rather than deter them, the IDA recommends lights with motion sensors which detect people moving.

Society chairman Lee Mauger said they were delighted the holiday park business has committed to changing its lighting regime to fit within the dark sky friendly rules. As part of the agreement the Society had audited the park’s lighting, recommended changes to meet the regulations and congratulated Lisa for agreeing to make the changes as soon as practical.

Under the dark sky friendly plan, businesses agree to manage the levels of light pollution generated _ thus removing another source of light glow and preserving the clear, dark night sky the region uniquely enjoys, now and in the future.

That approach means astro-tourism can flourish, business can invest with confidence in the opportunity a high-quality dark sky reserve will generate for the region, Mauger said.

“The whole team at Martinborough TOP 10 Holiday Park are delighted to be the first Martinborough Dark Sky friendly business” Cornelissen said. “We have always kept our lighting low as I remember the amazement I felt when Frank and I moved back from the UK and I saw the Milky Way for the first time. That's an experience we try to share with our guests.”

The park is also “making a commitment to further reduce our light impact by shielding or replacing our external lighting to comply with the IDA’s new 2.2k standard by 2020,” she added.It will increase its use of timers and motion sensors to ensure lights are on only when and where people need them. It is also investigating a fully dark camping zone.

While South Wairarapa tourism currently is growing at 7.5 percent, by comparison the world’s first dark sky reserve at Tekapo on South Island experienced 23 percent growth last year. Its pristine night skies attracted 1 million mainly international tourists.

Mauger said the dark sky friendly scheme will aid the South Wairarapa District Council with its update of the region’s lighting ordinances to help control light pollution. This follows the award to Martinborough of “3K City” status by the IDA earlier this year after all new street lighting throughout the Wairarapa was installed with a rating of 3000 Kelvin _ meeting the IDA’s rules for a dark sky designation.

The Martinborough Dark Sky Society has added an application form to its web site to enable business to apply for Dark Sky Friendly status, at: https://martinboroughdarksky.org/

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