19 Sep 2012

Big canoe planned for Owaka

9:20 am on 19 September 2012

A South Otago town is looking at ways of making more of its growing tourism trade, with plans for a big canoe as a main street tourist attraction.

The idea has been submitted as part of a 10-year development plan for the Catlins town of 400 people.

Owaka means the place of the canoe, and local builder and historian Mike McPhee believes it's time that the town properly embraced its Maori name.

Mr McPhee says Maori used to build river canoes and large doubled-hull ocean waka out of totara trees on the Owaka River estuary.

He says tourists come to the town asking where its canoe is and he wants to build an oversized waka for public display.

Other ideas in recent community workshops include making over the main street, a small cinema, free wireless internet and establishing a roster so there is always an eatery open.