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Helping whales can boost NZ economy

Helping whales can boost NZ economy

New Zealanders who become members of Marlborough’s proposed National Whale Centre (NWC) will not only help whales and dolphins, but also themselves and the New Zealand economy, according to NWC chairman, Nick Gerritsen.

The centre currently exists virtually as weblog but Gerritsen says plans are already advanced to build a semi-permanent exhibition and information centre on the Picton foreshore, and eventually a permanent centre, that is designed to attract people from around New Zealand and worldwide.

NWC aims to increase awareness of New Zealand’s whaling history in the Marlborough Sounds as well as current whale and dolphin (cetaceans) conservation efforts through information, research and exhibition programmes.

“This project has the potential to make Picton and the wider Marlborough region a major tourist destination, which in turn will boost the New Zealand economy,” comments Gerritsen.

The NWC launched its membership drive this week with the release of a membership brochure both in hard copy and in the weblog.

Each month from March 1 one lucky new member will win a limited edition Dick Frizzell print of Sam Hunt’s poem “The Harpooner’s Song” valued at $1200.

Among the other member benefits on offer are: a free sperm whale 4GB flashdrive upon joining, discounts on NWC merchandise, three newsletters a year, project packages for children, and special invitations to local related events.

“We need New Zealanders to get behind this project as they and their families stand to benefit most from its success,” explains Gerritsen.

Since the launch of the NWC Project at the Perano Station last June the centre has concentrated on building a community of interest throughout the country and overseas. It has also focused on raising working capital through a donors’ programme and making grant applications to various public agencies.

NWC project director, Luit Bieringa says that until now it has been impractical to offer membership to a project that only has a virtual (web) existence and without any clear, tangible benefits for members.

He says, however, that since the release of a range of whale-related products such as a sperm whale flashdrive, posters, and the very successful artists’ print portfolio programme, the centre is ready to offer practical benefits as well as remaining a vital information network provider for communities both in the Marlborough Sounds area, as well as nationally and internationally.

“With many constituents coming on board as expert advisors and willing helpers we can now move forward with the membership part of the project’s strategic plan and, hopefully, gain a committed and youthful army of Friends of the National Whale Centre.

“We hope that children, in particular, join up – a year’s junior membership costs about the same as a movie ticket - since the project is as much about the future as it is on the region’s whaling history,” comments Bieringa.

Membership brochures will be available from several outlets in Picton and the wider Marlborough area or interested people can access the online information on www.aworldwithwhales.com as well as join online.

Ends

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