23 Sep 2018

Stewart Island to make official Dark Sky Sanctuary bid

8:31 pm on 23 September 2018

Stewart Island will tomorrow apply for official status as an International Dark Sky Sanctuary.

Big Glory Bay's waters are peppered with black buoys, marking the oyster and mussel farms there.

The sun setting on one of Stewart Island's picturesque bays. Photo: RNZ / Maja Burry

If successful, it will be the fifth sanctuary in the world.

The International Dark Sky Association defines a Dark Sky Sanctuary as "public or private land that has an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and a nocturnal environment that is protected for its scientific, natural, or educational value, its cultural heritage and/or public enjoyment".

Venture Southland's business and strategic projects general manager Stephen Canny thinks the island has made a strong case.

"Culturally on the island the dark sky has always been a feature, land of the glowing sky is a literal interpretation of Rakiura, it's certainly something that has captured the hearts and minds of all of the stakeholders on the island."

Mr Canny said there was a plan to manage the island lightscape and the responsibilities of key stakeholders.

He said that would be discussed at a Venture Southland committee meeting tomorrow.

Venture Southland hopes to get an answer from the International Dark Sky Association on the application before Christmas.

Last year Aotea/Great Barrier Island became an official Dark Sky Sanctuary. The association said a sanctuary differs from an International Dark Sky Reserve becuase usually it is remote with "few (if any) nearby threats to the quality of its dark night skies".