Queenstown schools step it up to support award-winning light experience LUMA

Hundreds of primary and high school students from around Queenstown are adding their own special touch to the multi-award-winning LUMA Southern Light Project.

The countdown is on to four evenings of illuminated art, light sculptures and entertainment in the Queenstown Gardens over Queen’s Birthday weekend (May 31 – June 3).

Community participation, collaboration and support is a key driver for organisers of the event – now in its fourth year and expected to attract over 50,000 people who brave winter nights to immerse themselves in the light and sound spectacular.

And for over 250 students whose work will be on display it’s the culmination of months of hard work and creative effort on their collaborative installations.

The person with the biggest job of all is Wakatipu High School (WHS) technology teacher and LUMA school liaison co-ordinator Rebecca Lund.

She has brought together students not only from WHS but from Queenstown, Remarkables and Shotover Country primary schools to work with the theme ‘Lanterns’.

With sustainability in mind though, the theme has a twist — students all have to use recycled materials.

Plenty of plumbing of all shapes and sizes (even sewage pipes) have been repurposed for the works, after students were tasked with finding plumbers, construction and project managers willing to donate materials for them to transform.

Media students at the high school have also been able to get involved again this year, introducing an element of sound to the school pieces encouraging people to interact with the artworks by finding sound-sensitive buttons to press in conjunction with the light elements.

“The students are as excited as they can be because they’re presenting their work not just to our schools’ community but to thousands more visitors and locals at LUMA,” says Rebecca.

“Because of the ‘soundscape’ element of the installation it’s meant we can be more cross-curricular than ever before, involving more than 70 students from the high school alone.”

For the first time the WHS Art Department has dedicated a Scheme of Work to the LUMA project and created a ‘cityscape’ using clay. Under the watchful eye of teacher Abbey Brown, students have learned how to handle, bisque fire and glaze clay structures.

“I sometimes wonder why I sign up for this year after year, but when I see the end result and how proud students and their families are, it’s all worth it,” says Rebecca.

Over the past two months, LUMA director Simon Holden has been coming into schools to give authentic stakeholder feedback on student ideas and concepts.

“Students have found that pretty challenging but have accepted the challenge,” says Rebecca. “It’s a valuable lesson for them to learn that this is the way things happen out in the real world. I really value the fact that this is an amazing authentic project.

“It has actual stakeholders that students have to listen to and adapt their work accordingly depending on feedback.”

Another ‘first’ for WHS students is the chance to help in the set-up of their works, working on site with technicians to install their creations before the crowds arrive.

LUMA Light Festival Trust chairman Duncan Forsyth says the level of involvement from local schools is a key element of community initiatives and engagement, aligning with the Trust’s core values.

“These students work so hard each year and we’re as thrilled as they are to see their work literally come to life over the LUMA weekend,” he says.

LUMA Southern Light Project and the LUMA Light Festival Trust are very proudly supported by the Central Lakes Trust, the Queenstown Lakes District Council and Queenstown law firm Anderson Lloyd.

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Business support flows for award-winning Queenstown light experience LUMA

Two major Queenstown businesses are flying the flag for the multi-award-winning LUMA Southern Light Project.

Skyline Queenstown and Queenstown Airport are supporting the event as installation partners, with the countdown well and truly on to four evenings of illuminated art, light sculptures and entertainment in the Queenstown Gardens over Queen’s Birthday weekend (May 31 – June 3).

Now in its fourth year, around 50,000 people are expected to brave chilly winter nights to go on a sensory journey through the gardens and around the Queenstown Bay waterfront.

The free public event is a riot of light and colour, focusing on the transformation of space, public interaction, art, culture and education. It’s all made possible by curated collections of stunning light sculptures and thought-provoking installations, brought together by a group of young Queenstown professionals who donate thousands of hours’ time to bringing the event to life.

Skyline Queenstown is supporting the creation of a two-part projection titled Superposition by Creature, by artist Lakshman Anandanayagam, which will link the gardens installation to the Skyline Queenstown complex on nearby Bob’s Peak.

Queenstown Airport is supporting ‘Trilogy’ by visual arts initiative the South Island Light Orchestra (SILO) and & AMD. The installation has been designed specifically for LUMA and will also appear at the airport after the event.

Duncan Forsyth, LUMA Light Festival Trust chairman, says the increased business support is a new phase of growth for the event. Skyline is a first-time installation partner and Queenstown Airport returns to the event after taking a break last year.

“We’re thrilled to be an official installation partner for LUMA19,” says Skyline General Manager Wayne Rose.

“At Skyline Queenstown, we continuously look to support local community initiatives we feel align closely with our core values and represent who we are as an organisation.

“LUMA is the perfect opportunity to do just that and by mirroring an installation from the gardens within the Skyline complex, we’re also providing Gondola Annual Pass holders with another reason to ride up the Gondola. And it promises to be a lot of fun!”

Duncan Forsyth says the trust is delighted to see more local businesses than ever before recognising the value LUMA brings to the town.

“Community engagement is at the heart of everything we do at LUMA so this is part and parcel of that,” he says.

“The event continues to evolve as a sensory experience with a broader focus this year on live performance, so this increased support from two very prominent local businesses goes a long way to confirming we’re on the right path.

“We can’t thank them enough.”

LUMA Southern Light Project and the LUMA Light Festival Trust are very proudly supported by the Central Lakes Trust, the Queenstown Lakes District Council and Queenstown law firm Anderson Lloyd.

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Progressive Queenstown hotel drives social change

Queenstown’s newest hotel is driving social change for New Zealand’s hotel industry.

Opened nine months ago as the country’s first fully smart hotel, mi-pad Queenstown has been paying all its staff at least the living wage – rather than the minimum wage – since February this year.

The property’s 16 staff, from housekeepers to those working on reception and management, are paid a minimum of $20.55 an hour, well above the current minimum wage of $17.70 per hour.

Mi-pad Queenstown launched last year with a unique, intelligent mind-set at the very heart of its approach, mixing technology and sustainability to challenge conventional thinking.

Hotel manager Joshua Keeble says its commitment to responsible tourism through a number of ‘smart’ resources also extends to the overall welfare of its people.

“We all know that Queenstown’s not a cheap place to live so we’ve made a conscious decision to invest in our team,” he says.

“The upside of that is we’re able to recruit and retain amazing staff who receive lots of praise from guests for being friendly, efficient and helpful.

“In turn that means they’re really happy to work here and they’re not having to take on second jobs or work long hours just to make ends meet.”

Mi-pad Queenstown has embarked on the process of obtaining official accreditation from the Living Wage movement for its employment stance and hopes to see others in the industry follow suit.

“We’re committed to offering this rate to all new future staff recruits and we know this will help attract some of the best in our industry, so for us it’s win-win,” says Joshua.

The 57-room hotel in the heart of Queenstown is renowned as New Zealand’s first fully ‘smart’ hotel. It’s a next generation, energy-conscious hotel experience for the smart traveller, marrying technology, sustainability, comfort and convenience.

The key to the hotel is that there is no key. Once guests download the hotel’s personal app ‘mia’, their smartphone becomes a room key, the means of setting room temperatures and mood lighting in their room, calling for room service and even transforming into a digital concierge.

To unlock the key to the full mi-pad experience, book online at www.mipadhotels.com

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Wildlife and conservation projects ‘flying high’ for heli company

Two wildlife and conservation projects are flying high thanks to Heli Glenorchy.

A connection between a seventeen-month-old Labrador and traps to prevent a hedgehog invasion in New Zealand’s native bush seems somewhat unlikely.

But they’ve been brought together in the frontline battle against natural disasters and the extinction of native species.

Three-year-old scenic flight company Heli Glenorchy is ‘giving back’ to Glenorchy’s treasured environment by donating flight time to New Zealand’s renowned search and rescue service LandSAR and the Routeburn Dart Wildlife Trust’s predator control operations.

They’re helping the Trust ‘bring back the birdsong’ in the Routeburn and Dart valleys and helping Zara the Labrador to ‘fly’ to real-scenario training locations in the depths of the mountains.

For trainee SAR dog Zara, heli hours that any pilot would envy are important to her training.

She’s been trained from a puppy by NZ LandSAR Search Dogs volunteer and dog handler Vladka Kennett to search in wilderness and avalanche environments.

With her annual assessment due late-August, Vladka says it’s extremely important that Zara has frequent access to snow training and exposure to flying so she becomes comfortable and confident in the air.

“To have local community support is invaluable to us, not only for access to “real scenario” training locations but for volunteers to get to know each other before working together in real events,” she says. “This, of course, includes pilots and on-ground crew.

“The Head of the Lake is backcountry and heliskiing terrain and can only be accessed by helicopter.

“Thanks to Heli Glenorchy’s support, we can regularly visit the hangar to do routine obedience and search training and jump on and off ‘the chopper’ if needed.

“Time is crucial in an avalanche situation, so it can save lives if we can just grab the dog and a pack and jump on the heli right here.”

Meanwhile, flight time donated to the Routeburn Dart Wildlife Trust will be auctioned on TradeMe, with scenic flights going to the highest bidder.

Trust Executive Officer Geoff Hughes says the funds raised will go towards predator control in the Routeburn and Dart Valleys.

“Most species at risk in the Routeburn and Dart valleys nest in places that predators find easy to access, so it’s our job to save native species from becoming extinct,” he says.

“Hedgehogs have been spotted in Blanket Bay and if they arrive in Glenorchy they could cause destruction to ground-nesting bird nests.

“The money raised could be spent on buying hedgehog traps by the Buckler Burn or help serve and maintain the 601 traps installed at the new Dart and Rees rivers trapping project.

“As a self-funding charitable trust, we’re ever so appreciative of Nick and the team for the funding and support.”

Heli Glenorchy also works with the Department of Conservation (DOC) servicing local walking tracks, in addition to commercial work including heavy lifting, firefighting and most recently assisting with the reconstruction of Kaikoura.

Its recent work has seen the company be recognised with a Qualmark silver rating for its sustainable practices.

Heli Glenorchy director and chief pilot Nick Nicholson is delighted to ‘give back’ to Glenorchy’s treasured environment.

“It’s the raw nature and remote terrain that makes our business possible so it’s nice to be working closely with the Glenorchy community,” he says.

“Our support to the Routeburn Dart Wildlife Trust is complementary to the work we do with DOC, and New Zealand’s search and rescue service is essential to get behind as it’s a safety net for anyone exploring the backcountry during winter.

“Achieving a Qualmark silver rating is fantastic and supports the movement we’re going through for our Safety Management Systems framework.

“The recognition and constructive feedback we’ve received from Tourism New Zealand will help with future growth in all aspects of the company.”

Video footage of NZ LandSAR Search Dogs volunteer and dog handler Vladka Kennett and Zara can be found here.

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