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Omarama Gazette
March 2021

The March Issue

Stepping down after 50 years
Opportunity opens up to developers
US gliding record falls in New Zealand
Enjoying the rough ride to success
Soaring on to new adventures
Half-breds fetch best prices at sales.
One year on, look how far we've come
Farewell to a friend

Regular Features

The Noticeboard 
The Community Reports
Something to Puzzle Over

Waitaki District Council - News in Brief  
 Environment Canterbury - News in Brief  
National Wallaby Management Programme update
The Directory
The Last Page is Classifieds 
The Weather that Was 
The Garden Diary 
The View from the Chook House  
Stepping down after 50 years
Omarama Saleyards Company director Tony Gloag will step down after 50 years in the job.

It never rains on sales days.
Some years it can come down either side but it doesn't rain on the day.
He should know he has hardly missed a sale in 50 years.
Omarama saleyards company director Tony Gloag, of Buscot Station,  is stepping down from the role he took over from his father, Jim Gloag, in 1971. 
In that time, he has attended “almost every” sale. 
It was time for “new blood”, he said. 


The Omarama saleyards were gradually becoming the South Island centre for fine wool stock sales, Tony said. 
Stock numbers moved up from an average of 8,000 to just over $20,000 at 2018’s lamb sale; Omarama had benefited from the closure of the Cromwell yards. 
This year there had been entries from the Mackenzie Country as well as Central Otago. 
“Both Cromwell and the Tekapo saleyards had been affected by encroaching urban expansion,” Tony said.
Last year, because of the Covid-19 situation Omarama’s calf sale was cancelled and the company was hit hard. 
“We’ve never lost a sale before. We try to keep the yard dues down, so sales are important.
“Every sale counts for maintenance costs.”
Tony was elected as director in September 1972 when his father retired from farming. 
It was a “baptism under fire”. 
A year earlier the saleyards committee had decided, because the yard could not accommodate the rapidly increasing calf numbers, the area of supply would be split, with the Ahuriri and Waitaki Rivers as the dividing line. 
The resolution was supposed to stand for two years but by that same September vendors – some the same ones who had put forward the motion – were disgruntled with the arrangement and moved to have it changed back. 
The directors stood firm. 
“It was a matter of principle” and there was “bitter and heated debate at a well- attended meeting”. 
The directors won that round. 
“Passions and attendance at meetings have never risen to the same extent again.”
The original saleyards were immediately adjacent to the Omarama Hotel. 
But they were in a poor state, Tony said. 
Stock could drift between pens and move around the yards, even out of the yards during the auction. 
“It was a nightmare for vendors, buyers and stock agents.” 
Although it was quite good for the publican because the pub would remain full until such time as all stock was drafted into the correct lots after the sale. 
In late 1963, once the rebuild of the Omarama Memorial Hall was complete – the original hall was destroyed by fire – a small company was formed with the late Stuart Dick, of Ribbonwood Station, as chairman, to construct the saleyards at its present location. 
The capital required was raised from the sale of shares to prospective users; Benmore, Omarama, Otematata, Ben Dhu, Berwen – the full list is a roll call of established stations in the area. 
Tactfully, shares were also offered to the hotel proprietors, at that time the Woods family, Tony said.
Stuart Dick was succeeded by the late Bob Aubrey (Berwen Station) – both former World War II fighter pilots. 
“Both were intelligent, articulate, tenacious, determined and formidable in the pursuit of objectives. For me it was an honour to have been associated with them.” 
Other directors on that first board were Jim Sutherland (Benmore Station), and three directors representing the North Otago Stock and Station Agents Association.
The saleyards were built for 30,000 sheep and 200 calves, which at the time was considered ambitious and “terribly optimistic”. 
But every chairperson since has had an “expansion programme”. 
Construction was not all plain sailing. 
The contractor hired to drive in the railway iron posts did the job. 
But went on to argue there had been nothing in his contract to say the posts had to be in a straight line. 
After that the directors became "much more closely involved”. 
With the services of the late WA (Allan) Blackie as engineer the yards were completed.
In the 1970s, while Jim Sutherland was chair, the cattle yards were extended. 
Jim also devoted many hours and the use of the Benmore truck to expand the capacity of the yards. 
In March 1974, the selling ring for cattle was built by the late Peter Patterson and volunteers. 
In March 1977, 48 pens were added. 
Joe and later Hugh Cameron, of Otematata Station, always made staff available to help with the work.
Dick Wardell and Omarama Station staff, being the closest, often inherited the job of handling any immediate problems arising at sale time, he said.
Tony was chairman from 1982 until 1995. 
In that time the emphasis changed from cattle to sheep. 
And the farmer directors were to come under fire a second time. 
To maintain the highest standard of stock on offer they decided to restrict entries to only those who farmed in the district. 
The company did not want the Omarama sale to become the “dumping ground” for aged or difficult to sell stock, Tony said. 
The stock bred in the district are renowned for their “shifting quality”. 
“The stock off some of the hard country back toward the southern Alps has terrific potential to grow and develop.” 
But the new rule penalised some traditional vendors from outside the area while not stopping substandard stock from the Omarama area from being put up for sale. 
“Many hours were spent on the phone speaking to upset clients.” 
The decision was reversed and right of access was from then on determined by quality alone.
Pens would be labelled clearly with point of origin and the market and cost of freight would decide how worthwhile it was for the vendor to send stock to Omarama, he said.

The annual sales have always been subject to outside influences and changing farming practices. 
“Some years, drought years, it has been almost impossible to sell old sheep. 
“Today irrigation has made a big difference. 
“Even in dry years, it has given us much more security. 
Farmer could buy store stock with the confidence they could grow enough feed to carry them through and fatten them, Tony said. 
Conversely, and with the new merino lamb contracts, there were fewer lambs put forward for sale because farmers could now carry them through. 
“Prices are as high as they have ever been.” 
Hybrid lambs "with that hybrid vigour” had increased in popularity. 
“Most farms have a small number of hybrid lambs as well.
“They reach prime carcass weights at six months as opposed to merinos which take a year," Tony said.

Below: Tony checks the schedule and notes prices at last months adult ewe fair.

Below: Aerial photos taken of the 1995 Omarama adult sheep sale 
and on display at Rural Transport Ltd, Kurow, show a yarding of 38,000 ewes.
Opportunity offered to developers
 A slice of Bog Roy Station on the side of Lake Benmore has been put up development.
 Photo: Sotheby International Realty

An “exceptional slice of South Island high country sitting on the water’s edge of Lake Benmore” has been put up for sale by Bog Roy Station owned by David and Lisa Anderson. 
The 35.7ha block which sits on the western edge of the high country sheep and beef station on the shore of Lake Benmore and alongside the newly-constructed Sailors Cutting to Benmore section of the Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail was listed for sale by tender by Sotheby’s International Realty, last month.


The “Blue Water Block” offered “a very special opportunity to create an inspiring true lakeside lifestyle development,” the listing said.
“With zoning and covenants in place to protect the future of this unique block, there are up to 16 rural lifestyle sites to be developed across the 35.7 hectares.”
The offer is pitched at “a developer, legacy investment or syndicate of friends”.
Mr Anderson declined to comment on the move save to say the couple had been working with the Waitaki District Council for the past few years to ready the block for sale and development. 
“It is in the District Plan and the area has been zone rural residential for more than 30 years. 
“It went through the District Plan process at the time.” 
“We've decided to take up the option and sell a parcel of land," he said
Tenders close 4pm Thursday 22 April 22.

Below: The section of the Waitaki District Plan Map 7 Benmore- Ahuriri
which shows the areas zoned Rural Residential in purple.
US gliding record falls in New Zealand
Omarama glider pilots Keith Essex and Marju Rossi celebrate their record breaking flight last month.

A United States gliding speed record has been broken here in Omarama, New Zealand.
Glider pilots Keith Essex and Marju Rossi flying a two-seater ASG 32 broke the US record for speed over a triangle course of 300km, in January. 
While it had been “provisionally approved” official confirmation routinely takes some months, Keith said. 
The record, previously held by American’s Jim and Jackie Payne, was set in 1998. 
Keith and Marju set the new bar at 171kph, about 40kph faster than the Paynes. 
Omarama Gliding Club member Martin Katschner was the official observer.
Record attempts must be declared prior to the flight and, in this case, also where the turn points were going to be, Keith said. 
The pair, with Keith flying and Marju as tactician, made two attempts at the record.
In the end it was the first attempt which proved to be the record breaker.
From the Omarama Saddle they made their way to the Tasman Glacier out to Fairlie and back.
“The weather conditions were difficult.
“We weren’t really optimistic we were going to do it, but we persevered and plugged through it and made it happen made it on our first attempt. 
“By the second attempt conditions fell apart so we couldn’t finish,” he said.
While it was Marju’s first record, Keith has a score of unequalled runs under his belt.
The flights require intense focus, he said.
“You can make no mistakes. You’re so focused.
“All it takes is one mistake.”
“You have to think about what’s happening now, in the next 10 seconds, in the next minute, in the next hour.”
While Keith, who hails from Alaska, has been flying since a young age he took to gliding much later. 
Marju is a third generation glider pilot. Her late father and late grandfather flew gliders in Finland.
And just last month the family tradition continued with daughter Tuulianna at age 14 becoming the fourth generation of solo glider pilots in her family. 
Marju said she remembered wondering when Tuulianna was about two years old if she would inherit the love of gliding.
"Tuulianna’s grandfather and great grand father would have been really proud."
The next goal is the 100km triangle, in fact they have a few more of Jim Payne’s records in their sights, Keith said.

Read about Tuulianna's first solo flight in Youth Glide news below.
Half-breds fetch best prices at sales
Demand saw prices for half-breds top prices for merino lambs and ewes at this year's Omarama sales. 
This year’s Omarama Fine Wool Lamb sale featured a “bit of a spread” of merino, half bred and terminal sired lambs, PGG Wrightson area livestock manager Mark Yeates said. 
It was a “very good” yarding of more than 19,000 lambs which sold to buyers spread from Central Otago to North Canterbury. 
Of the merino wethers, the top line went to Tara Hills Station for a draft of 269 at $120.
The second draft of 504 made $115
The top price for merino ewe lambs - a line of 213 at $136 - also went to Tara Hills.
There was "very strong demand" for half-bred lambs, Mr Yeates said. 
Longslip Station featured with a draft of 101 wether lambs which made $199 and its top two draftings of ewe lambs went for $126 and $115. 
Of the terminal sire lambs Shirlmar Station’s top two drafts of Southdown merino cross lambs made $100 and $91 Mt Otekaike Station’s top two drafts of black face half-breds made $102 and $89.
The adult ewe fair, a week later, attracted a yarding of  6,500 and featured a capital stock line of 1200 mixed age ewes from Rugged Ridges Station.
Once again Tara Hills had the top line – a draft of 200 six-year-old ewes sold for $134.
Lines from Benmore Station and Rostriever Run made $126.
And a line from Glenbrook Station made $125.
Last year, top price at the adult ewe fair was $126 and the top line of half-bred ewe lambs  made $150.
Auctioneer, PGG Wrightson area livestock manager Mark Yeates opened bidding at the Omarama Lamb Sale with a pen of Tara Hills Station merino wether lambs.
The sale yarding, estimated to be “the top side of 19,000 lambs”,
drew a good crowd.
Enjoying the rough ride to success
 Omarama Rodeo club volunteers Lachie Wettenhall and Marcia Green
take stock of what has been a successful yea
That the Omarama Rodeo Club’s 2020 event was the success it was had to be a reflection, not only of the hard work of volunteers, but their sheer enthusiasm. 
And two of the most driven to see the club win through and stage a successful rodeo, despite the year that was, had to be Marcia Green and Lachie Wettenhall. 


Glenburn Station stock manager Marcia joined the club about three years ago only to find herself fast tracked to the secretary role. 
She had gone along to a fundraiser – the Mrs Brownz Boys tribute show – realised numbers were short so asked if they might need a hand.
She was invited to the next meeting and …as the saying goes …next minute. 
At first, she was handed the vice president role.
Then there was a “swap around and I was literally roped in” as secretary, Marcia said laughing. 
The club did not just rope in a secretary with that nifty move but also managed to land Marcia’s partner Lachie, stock manager at Glencairn Station, who joined the committee. 
“And I do what I’m told,” he said.
This past year all plans have had to navigate several Covid-19 alerts but despite that the club met their aim of pulling together a “sharp” event for Rodeo Day with the event attracting the biggest number of contestants since 2015, Marcia said.
“It just flowed. There was great weather. It was a great event, with everyone on the hill to watch and having the new system really made the day.”
That ‘new system’ is the Matt Parsons timed-event area, named for the local contractor who gave so much to see it built, helped by various volunteers on Sunday working bees, Marcia said. 
The bank above the Omarama Rodeo grounds creates a natural amphitheatre and the rebuild
and widening the arena at one end helped with the flow and directed the action to centre stage. 
“It worked better than we thought.”
Organising for Rodeo day – December 28 - means trying to think of everything. 
It means skipping the Christmas break with family because Marcia and Lachie are just too busy.
And on the day Marcia is harnessed to the office so she is on hand to deal with all those “niggly” matters.
“I get to delegate”. 
“[But] It just pulls itself together. If we didn’t have the members we’ve got …the team flows really nicely.” 
As well the Omarama club was fortunate in the number of former members who still help out, she said. 
The club has a broad reach of members, from Duntroon through to Fairlie. 
The youngest is 17 years-of-age. 
Last year the club elected Daniel Montgomery, of Duntroon, as its new president to replace the long-serving Jamie Brice who stood down.
The volunteers already have their eyes on the next task. 
That will be to replace the “Bird Box" – the judges present perch above the arena.
“ It will cost us a little bit of coin. We’ll have to see how this year goes fundraising-wise.” Marcia said.
Next year the club will hold its 35th rodeo.
Soaring on to new adventures
Milan Kmetovics (right) of Kahu Soaring marks the occasion of
his first flight as a commercial glider pilot with his first client. Photo: supplied

When one door closes  sometimes it is a canopy that opens to new opportunities.
Omarama glider pilot Milan Kmetovics obtained his Commercial Pilot's Licence (Gliding) about six months ago and launched his own “brand” Kahu Soaring - offering professional gliding lessons, professional photographic  keepsakes, and a little home-grown philosophy thrown in
He operates in partnership with the Omarama and the GlideOmarama gliding clubs and now, as a qualified professional gliding instructor, can charge customers directly for services. 


Milan took up gliding at the age of 15 in 1999 in his home country, Hungary. 
He moved to New Zealand six years ago and began as an instructor for Glide Omarama five years ago. 
The closure of Glide Omarama had been “very hard” for many and “very sad”, he said.
But it had been the motivation needed to set up on his own and his first season while relatively quiet had been successful. 
He does not operate under the problematic Civil Aviation rule - part 115 - which governs adventure flying but rather under part 149 – 'recreational'. 
His focus was on instruction rather than scenic flights and his market was "people with an aviation interest”, he said.
 “Day long experiences rather than short joy rides -  a high end product."
Not only had the season been marked by the absence of international visitors who would otherwise be the mainstay of a business like his but it had also been a "weird season for weather". 
But he had enjoyed having more time on his hands to  pursue other interests - tramping and photography. 
"I am an avid aviation photographer."
While working at Glide Omarama Milan also set up a small aviation photography and fine-art framing business.
Through both gliding and photography he is a passionate advocate for adventure and exploring the "wonders of our planet" right here in Omarama.
As well as introducing powered aircraft pilots to the practicalities and challenges of mountain soaring he wanted to give people the chance to "appreciate the beauty" and give "insight into our surroundings that enhance our spiritual and everyday being", he said.

In comparison with how hard his home country had been hit by Covid-19 New Zealand had been "very lucky"  and the outlook here was good, he said. 
"The Aussie are just standing by for the moment the borders open.
"It will be good for Omarama. They will bring their families and stay and eat local."

All photos supplied
One year on, look how far we've come
We’re not out of the woods yet, but we are one year further along the path. 

With us all hunkered down Covid-19 Level 4 – ‘lock down’ officially began Thursday, March 26, 2020.
For most we were home safe, but some were stranded far from home.
The lock down did not come as a complete surprise because of preceding events but it was a shock, unprecedented and, yes, scary. 
We were living differently to save lives.

The Omarama Gazette’s first issue of its Daily Wire publication was introduced a day earlier and continued until the country reached level 2 - the last issue was Friday, May 15. 
It was a place where each day we could all share the serious stuff, the stuff we needed to know, and the lighter side of 'life in lock-down' too.
Maybe I'm right in thinking we all would have all imagined it could be ‘over’ by now. 
There are times we seem to be space-walking through a kind of limbo, just waiting. 
At other times we’re on that unwanted roller coaster ride. 
We’re starting to feel a bit battered and bruised from this ride, Dr Ashley. 
It’s still not easy and we’re all a little fragile. 
This is the new 'abnormal'.
There’s almost a sense of déjà vu as events we thought would surely be all go for March 2021 are cancelled again. 

We had just squeezed in the Wanaka Show and Wajax 2020 but then we missed Maadi.
But we were blessed.
Omarama turned on one of its stunning autumns. 
And what we can ‘celebrate’ this year this is the foundation we built back then and from which we moved forward at lockdown's end.
We got more exercise.
We had time - for each other, for the things that mattered to us.
We made a point of staying in touch.  
We made a point of looking out for each other and helping in all the little ways we could.
We laughed together often, we cried together sometimes.
We ‘reset’ and resolved to let the things we value take priority.
For some, particularly our business people,  it has been predicted that 'now' is the time it will get harder - before we turn that corner to better times.
Know that we have got your back. Omarama is here for you.
On the days the sun does not shine sunflowers turn to each other.
We’re going to be okay.


A message from Tourism Waitaki to all businesses

If you're a business or organisation that experienced a revenue drop of at least 30% due to the recent rise in COVID-19 alert levels, you may be eligible for a Resurgence Support Payment. It’s not a loan and doesn’t need to be paid back.

You can find out more here.

If you have any questions or need support, you can call the free COVID-19 Business Helpline.

All New Zealand businesses, including sole traders, can get support and advice on:

·         government financial support, eg low-interest loans, tax relief

·         what different alert levels mean for your business

·         business continuity

·         finding free or subsidised expert help, eg a business mentor or advisor.

Employers can also get specific advice on people challenges, including staffing changes, employee wellness, and meeting your health and safety obligations.

North Island 0800 500 362 |  South Island 0800 505 096

Farewell to a friend

Many of you know our dear friend Frank Monaghan.
He has come here from his Californian home each summer to fish for as long as we all can remember.
He had hoped against hope he would be able to return once again this summer to tease the trout as he has always done, and have a beer or two at the pub.
But he was frustrated Covid had put an end to the visit this year.
Early last month he emailed to say he had sad news.
“The doctors say I have terminal cancer and will so I will not be able to visit your beautiful town anymore. I wish to thank you all for the lovely hospitality and the grand times I have had there for the last 20 years. Take care.”
Frank died shortly afterwards.
We will miss you Frank… as always ... we raise our glasses to you and a life well lived, cheers mate!

Below is the first story I wrote about Frank, back in February 2016.
It tells only a little about his visits to Omarama and his life in California.


Gone Fishin’,
Omarama Gazette, February 2016
For the past 21 years, in the midst of rainy Californian winters, Frank Monaghan (79) counts down the days until he can hang up the ‘gone fishin’ sign on his Napa home and set off for Omarama to “have a beer at the pub” and give the fish a “bit of a scare”.
His first visit was with friend and fishing guide Matt Minch, of Montana, in 1995, and they were joined by Bob Sharrer, of Alaska. 
Bob was as keen about gliding as he was about fishing and would keep an eye on the clouds before making up his mind what he would do on a day – fish or fly. The men would often stay with Adrienne and Nevin Risk, now of Geraldine, and who are still close friends.
Arthritis prevents Matt from taking on the annual trek and Bob passed away some years ago. 
The Omarama Gazette caught up with Frank enjoying a beer and telling fisherman’s tales at the pub. He joked he was told by a former publican that after 10 years he would qualify for the “local” price for beer. He still lives in hope, he said.
The story goes, on one occasion, when Matt and Bob were getting in rounds Frank noticed they were given a 'local' price but when it was his round he was charged another more expensive price. 
He travels widely including to South America once or twice a year. 
Once "inoculated" he “got the travel bug”, he said.
These days he arrives in Omarama at New Year and stays nine weeks.
He has been fishing since he was a boy in Philadelphia and later in the San Francisco Bay area and took up fly-fishing in 1980.
The semi-retired marine chemist works with friends throughout the Californian summer to pick and crush grapes and bottle red and white wine.
The wine, under the Château Garnier of Napa label, is given away, especially to those “who let me fish”.
Frank’s mother’s family – the Garniers – were a wine-making family from the Alsace region of France.
His retirement often gets interrupted by calls to work to inspect ships and associated marine industry to identify any health risks, fire or explosion hazards posed by various vapours.
There are few left with the knowledge to work in this field, he said.
Fishing the high country waters had changed over the years. In the early years, he would not see a “no trespassing” sign, now “every place you see them”.
Didymo was present and “gunked up the lines”.
His favourite fishing spot was near Ben Avon. This too might change with the building of the lodge. Overall he did not see as many fish these days.
“I don’t think the dairy farms are doing the fishing any good,” Frank said.

The Noticeboard 
To have your community notice included here email:

Our congratulations to Jessica Gallagher and Daniel Bottle on the occasion of their marriage.

Upper Waitaki Returned and Services Assoc 2021 Annual meeting, 2pm Saturday, March 20 at the back bar of the Kurow Hotel. Karen Hofman 027 208 2669, Bill Wallace 03 436 0463

Kurow Medical Centre  * NOTE CHANGE OF DAY * Omarama Clinic at the Omarama Community Centre, is open Thursdays, 8.30am to 5pm. To make appointments for all clinics, order repeat scripts or make enquiries please contact Kurow Medical Centre 03 436 0760 (Monday to Thursdays).

The Omarama Community Library is open 9am to 10am,  Wednesdays and Saturdays, at the Omarama Community Centre. Library hours can change. Contact Yvonne: 027 476 7473.

St Thomas' Omarama Community: Services and communion are held on a regular basis, usually monthly at 10.30am on the Friday of the second weekend of the month at the home of a parishioner. Contact: Kay Verheul 03 438 9538.

The Omarama Golf Club  Saturdays cards in 12.30pm tee-off 1pm. Club captain James Moynihan phone: 027 215 8266; email

The Upper Waitaki Young Farmers Club meets at 7.30pm on the first Monday of each month at the ‘Top Pub’ - the Blue and Gold pub, in Kurow. All welcome. Join the Facebook group.

Omarama Playgroup meets at 9.30am each Wednesday during the primary school term at the Omarama Community Centre.  For more information phone president Tarryn Benton 027 201 7065 or secretary Aimee Snelgrove 022 350 5536

Bridge Club - The Omarama Bridge Club meets on a regular basis and would welcome new members. If you are interested please phone Sylvia Anderson 438 9784 or Ann Patterson 438 9493.

The Omarama Model Aircraft Club meets on Saturdays from 9.00 am to 12.00 noon at its flying ground at the Omarama airfield. All welcome - Contact Don Selbie on 027 435 5516.

FENZ Omarama Volunteer Fire Brigade meets 7pm each Wednesday and has its meeting at 7:30pm on the third Wednesday of the month. New members welcome.

A gentle exercises and social afternoon group meets at the Otematata District Club at 1.30pm  Thursday afternoons. Gold coin donation and a cuppa after the exercises.

Learn to play Bridge Otematata, 7pm Thursdays at the Otematata District Club.
We have several persons learning at the present time. people can just sit in and watch to begin with if they prefer.  Contact Ethel Gray 03  438 7764 or just arrive. Non members of the club will need to be signed in by an existing member.

Plunket Line: 0800 933 922
Omarama Plunket Committee: phone Petrina Paton 027 345 6192 
Thank you to all who share your stories and
contribute in other ways to the Gazette.

We all really appreciate what you do.

If you find anything amiss in the Omarama Gazette
please contact Ruth Grundy, 021 294 8002 or email
and I will do my very best to put it right.

To read more,  enjoy more photos and watch our place 'come to life' check out our Facebook page and website.

To receive email alerts between monthly editions of the Omarama Gazette sign up to our 'Local List'.
and put 'Local List' in the subject line.
The April issue of the Omarama Gazette
is Wednesday, April 7, 2021.

The close-off for this is Friday, April 2
Advertising pays for
production and distribution
To find out about publication and close-off dates,
and how much it costs to place your advertisment, 
 phone 021 294 8002, 03 438 9766 or email
To our businesses

If you would like a feature written about your business please contact the Gazette. A booking is required and there is a fee for this. These features will be posted to the Omarama Gazette Facebook page. 
The Community Reports
Omarama Volunteer Fire Brigade
Here we are March 2021. Twelve months ago we were hearing a lot about Coronavirus (Covid 19). Not long then and we were in lockdown. For some it was extremely tough, for others it was a time to reflect on what life used to be like. A slower pace of life, foraging for ingredients for pickles, preserves etc. purchasing ridiculous amounts of toilet paper, flour, yeast and D.I.Y. requirements. I wonder if it has all been used ?
Well, it is now time to take all the same cautions we were taking 12 months ago or we could end up back in that situation.


I was heading off to Wellington next weekend to [judge] a Fire Brigade Challenge which is now cancelled due to the fact we have moved into Level 2.
On a more positive note we had some of our team taking part in the Southern Challenge [Combat Challenge] in Cromwell, on Saturday. This event is often called the toughest  two minutes in sport. Wearing full fire-fighting  gear including breathing apparatus they do a number of tasks including climbing three flights of stairs and finish by dragging an 82kg mannequin 30m to the finish line. Well done Jacob Cook, 9th in the men’s Open, Jack Zorab, 13th men’s Open and let's not forget Charlotte Derosa who climbed to heights she has never done before, three stories high, not the usual three steps up a ladder, and helped the two lads in the relay.
Two of the brigades new recruits are currently away at the S.I. training centre in Christchurch doing their recruits' course, which will be a huge boost for the Brigade. Well done Tania Innes and Jessie Chapman. We look forward to you both riding the truck as fully qualified firefighters.
Remember we are still in a restricted fire season - check the web site before lighting.

Stay Safe, Chief Fire Officer Greg Harper

FENZ Omarama Volunteer Fire Brigade meets 7pm each Wednesday and has its meeting at 7.30pm on the third Wednesday of the month.

Below: Omarama volunteer fire fighters Jacob Cook, Charlotte Derosa and Jack Zorab compete at the Southern Challenge (fire fighters combat challenge) in Cromwell, on Saturday. Photos: supplied.
Omarama Golf Club
One of the things that makes golf such a great sport, is that all shapes, sizes and age can play. I think this is rather special, we have a photo from a recent club day of Riley Tuffley (our youngest member) and Ian Niles (our oldest member). 
Believe it or not there is approx. 70 years between them!!!! 
Photo/caption: Christine Bowman

Our next major date is Easter weekend, Saturday, April 3, for our second annual tournament (details in poster below), so put the date in your diary and enjoy the last weekend of daylight saving.

The Omarama Golf Club  Saturdays cards in 12.30pm tee-off 1pm.
Club captain 
James Moynihan phone: 027 215 8266 email
Omarama School
Kia Ora Omarama Community,
What a busy start of term we have had with a number of new enrolments and smiling faces. We welcomed Georgina Morgan, Ashlee Golder, and Mazie Paton and families to the junior room and Harlen Poshyvay and his whanau to the senior room.

Across the school, all the children have been developing their swimming abilities in preparation for the upper Waitaki swimming sports to be held later in the term and we have been investigating where we come from, including our ancestry.  We have had some amazing family treasures shared with us and look forward to seeing more of them as we journey through this inquiry.
In Huxley and Ahuriri a few weeks ago we were given two swan plants with four monarch caterpillars on each from Ashlee Golder's family. Over last week we watched as the caterpillars formed chrysalises and then over the weekend and today they have all hatched out as beautiful monarch butterflies and as the day was so warm today they have all flown.  It was amazing to watch them come out and slowly open their wings.

Class Huxley has done some research noting the differences between butterflies and moths.  We have also looked at the life cycle of butterflies.  It was amazing to look at butterflies congregating on trees in Mexico and to find out that there are places in the North Island that Monarchs fly to.

The Year 7 and 8 students have been attending Twizel School for Technology. This term the students have been developing their ability in cooking and they have cooked some tasty cheese scones and fruit muffins. They have been learning kitchen safety practices, how to rub in butter and other related terminology including reading measurement symbols and degrees and how to use different cooking equipment. Most importantly of all they are having fun!


While the seniors were away at Food Technology, the Year 5 and 6 students attended the ewe sale to observe an auction in action and make links to events that have historical significance to our area.
Below are some recounts written of their time at the ewe sales and photos taken by the Clay Cliffs class.
Ewe sale.
Thursday 25th February
I’m in my mum‘s car and I'm so excited for the new sale. I get out and see so many people you can hardly even see the ewes. As I get out of the car I hear so much yelling I can hardly even hear myself think, I start to look around.
In my group we were told to pick a pen of ewes that we would like to buy. I wanted to buy my Dad's ewes, personally. I didn’t know why he was selling them. Then we got to go on a stock truck. The design was very clever. Then we got to talk to one of the people that sold some of the sheep and we sold Wilfred, he sold for $11,000. Then we went to the Hall and we got ice blocks. I was surprised how cold it was.
By Maggie Radford. 
Ewe sale
Thursday 25th February
First we got a ride to the ewe sale. Then we saw some sheep being auctioned and the auctioneer talked really fast. We walked around for about 35 minutes and we saw lots of sheep. After that we got to go in the stock truck and honk the horn, then we got to see in the back of the stock truck, they use two layers for cows and four layers for sheep. Then we asked Madison (one of the auctioneers) some questions, we asked him to auction Wilfred he was talking so fast. After the ewe sale we went down to the park and had ice blocks and chips.
By Saedy Zeestraten. 
Ewe Sale
Thursday 25th February
On Thursday the year 5 and 6 went to the Omarama ewe sale. First when we got there we watched some of the pens getting sold, then we went to go and look at the other ewe pens. After we watched the ewes we got to go in one of the stock trucks. It was really cool looking in it. After we looked in the truck we got to take turns going in the front cab of the truck and honk the horn. Then we went outside and asked Maddison Taylor, one of the auctioneers some questions and had a mini auction and Jacob brought Wilfred for $11,000 dollars. After that we went to the Omarama Hall. At the Hall we got an ice block each and shared a couple of packets of chips. Then back to school and played Kahoot (a quiz game). It was really interesting at the ewe sale and I had heaps of fun.
By Robbie Anderson.

It has been nice stepping in as acting principal for the last five weeks but I am looking forward to dedicating my full attention back to my friends in Room Ahuriri. The staff and I would like to welcome Michelle Green who starts next week as our Principal to Omarama and the Omarama School community.
Keep smiling,

Acting Principal
Kim McKenzie
Tennis lessons designed with little people in mind have begun at the Omarama Sports Courts thanks to a national starter tennis programme for New Zealand children.
Omarama adult players Becky Martin and Jackson Kerr have been trained as coaches in the programme run under the umbrella of North Otago Tennis.
They, together with fellow player Ollie Mason, have begun regular coaching sessions for 22 local children, aged five to 12, each Wednesday after school at the courts.
The Tennis Hot Shots programme uses 'smaller' courts, shorter racquets and softer balls to help children play a proper game of tennis from the moment they step on court.
Using the modified equipment means young players develop the technical, tactical, physical and mental skills without being put off by huge courts, heavy racquets and balls that bounce too high.
Photos: supplied
Omarama Playgroup 
Last month, the Omarama Playgroup held its annual meeting and there have been several changes to the make up of the committee.
Andrea Aubrey stepped down as president after two years in the role. 
She will take on the role of treasurer which has been vacated by Jemma Gloag after six-and-a-half years.
Tarryn Benton has been elected president. 
Aimee Snelgrove takes over the secretarial role from Tarryn Benton and will also be the Plunket contact now Petrina Paton has left the role.
The committee members are; Andrea Aubrey, Zoe White, Jemma Gloag, Tarryn Benton, Jessica Sloan, Beky Nilson, Michaela Duffell and Ashleigh Roebuck. 

President Tarryn Benton 027 201 7065
Secretary Aimee Snelgrove 022 350 5536 email:
Kurow Medical Centre

**Please note clinic day in Omarama is Thursdays
Youth Glide 
As far as mother and daughter moments go, this one must be pretty unique.
Being drenched with water - two bucketful’s no less – marked the moment Tuulianna Laukkanen (14) became the fourth generation in her family to take to the sky and fly a glider solo.
After several months of lessons and hard work, and some final words from Omarama Gliding Club instructor Gavin Wrigley, Tuulianna was towed into the skies and released to take the controls of the GI03. She made what was deemed to be the “perfect” flight and textbook landing by those supporters gathered to watch the teenage pilot's first real test and a ‘rite of passage’ for all glider pilots.
Her staunchest supporter, mother Marju Rossi, also a glider pilot, said despite her experience, still, her heart was in her mouth as she watched her daughter leave the ground.
Boots & Jandals Hotel Social Club
Spud in a bucket 2021

'HOT POTATO' LOVE IN THE KITCHEN! 🥔👩‍❤️‍💋‍👨🥔👩‍❤️‍👨🥔🌹

There were limited entries in this year’s Boots & Jandals Hotel Omarama Social club’s Spud in a Bucket competition – but enough to get things hotting up in the kitchen.
Of what there were, reportedly it was a quality harvest, a spokesperson said.
Well, except for Rosco’s, and then again there were Colin’s – or actually not, according to reports.
About 25 entries were presented for judging in the annual competition, adjudicator Philip Jannick said.
[Sunday, February 14, 2020, at 2pm not 4pm RUTH!]


He was ably assisted by event stewards Laurie Ruddenklau and Ross (Rosco) Kelman, with Patrick.
When asked if they were any help whatsoever – Philip declined to comment.
“No comment from the bench," he said.
This year’s title was another first - a joint win by a couple of hot potatoes themselves …Omarama’s only chief and chiefette, drum roll, please... Greg and Adrienne Harper.
It was Valentine’s Day after all!
Rumour has it they spent the entire time of lockdown in their caravan in the backyard going over and over and over and over plans and tactics and strategies, and reviewing movies of inspirational competitors - like Burt Munro - to ensure they would wrest the trophy back for New Zealand.
If you remember it was Aussie-born Jill Crawford-Ferguson - their neighbour - who won Spud in the Bucket 2020.
The Harpers preparation and practice paid off, for not only did they take out the title, but they also won the prize for best looking potatoes. [You thought I was going to say couple didn’t you, mmm.]
In a romantic move fitting for the day, Greg took a break from the bar to go check on Adrienne, who was busy peeling the spuds for dinner, to see if he could get her a drink. Aaaw, 'ain't that just love for ya?!
In the children's competition, Kobie Sole retained his position in top rankings, once again taking out the title. Well done, lad!
In other entries of note –
Despite big promises and the size of the bucket, surprisingly (?) on the day Rosco failed to perform.
Disappointingly, a former title holder, Colin Herd, who was 2019’s champ, came – are we allowed to say it? LAST! He grew zero, zip, nada, no potatoes, none whatsoever!! Disappointing, Colin!
Oh well, there’s always next year.
The potatoes and buckets were supplied to contestants – members of Boots & Jandals Hotel Omarama Social Club at the end of last year.
Social Club members were treated to a barbeque tea with buckets of new spuds on the side.
Photos: Supplied
 Social Club Trip to Mount Cook National Park

Sunday, April 11,  2021

Tour package includes a basic lunch, return transport from Omarama to Glentanner
and a twenty minute scenic flight with the Helicopter line including a snow landing 

If you are interested in attending, the tour package
must be booked and paid for by March 31, 2021.

For further details, costs involved, bookings etc
please contact Philip Jannink 027 410 6524 
St Thomas' Church Community

Thanks to Kay Verheul

The St Thomas Church Management Committee would like to acknowledge the contribution Kay has made since the Church ceased to operate out of the Church Building.
Kay was the person from our Community who took on the official role of Treasurer, but unofficially Kay also organised the Church Services and supported the Minister taking those services now held in the Community Hall.
Kay also organised and oversaw the removal and storage of all the Church furniture as well as keeping an eye on the Church building and employing people to carry out maintenance work as needed.
Kay helped first Tourism Waitaki and then Trail Adventures settle into the building, sorting keys and cleaning issues.
In amongst these obvious deeds I believe she has carried the Church in her heart and hoped for a future brighter than the one we face at present.
We as a committee are very grateful for Kay’s contribution and we will miss her input at our committee meetings.
Thank you to Kay on behalf of our Committee and our Community.
Jan Thomas

St Thomas' Church Community
chairperson: Jan Thomas 

Committee secretary (Presbyterian) : Lee Kearon, phone: 021 250 1060 or email:
Anglican representative: Ven Dr Michael Godfrey, phone 022 342 9977 or  email

St Thomas Church Building Management Committee
If you know of anyone who might be interested in this position
or if you would like to put your name forward
please contact  Jan Thomas on 027 660 0658.
Ahuriri Catchment Community Group
The Essential Freshwater policy talk
with Lauren Phillips of Beef + Lamb New Zealand

at the Wrinkly Rams 
is now 3pm Wednesday, March 31

This is an event for everyone in the community
who wishes to learn more about how it may affect them.

All are welcome.
Chairperson: Trent Spittle
Vice-chairperson: Michael Doree
Secretary/Treasurer: Tania Innes
Facilitator: Stevie Young
Omarama Community Library
The Omarama Community Library  
is open 9am to 10am, 
Wednesdays and Saturdays, 
at the Omarama Community Centre.

Omarama Residents' Association
From the February meeting 

By Yvonne Jones

There were 12 people present

Waitaki District Libraries manager Philip Van Zijl paid another visit to measure up for library shelving. The shelving and library should be completed in the next two weeks.

The insurance for the Hall is with FMG and the playgroup also have their own insurance. It could be a better option for all concerned to look at combining both policies and getting other quotes from insurance companies.


Interest rates at the moment are so low it was suggested that we pay off the Hall loan with the Waitaki District Council. We could be paying  more in interest than we would get on a term deposit.  More information is to be sought from the council and if  interest is being accrued on this loan the committee has agreed to pay it off.

Hall curator Michelle Kitchen presented her report to the committee.
Health and Safety issues were discussed for hirers of the Hall.  Michelle had sourced a health and safety policy used by another community for the hall hire which with a few changes and additions we could perhaps use.  A copy of this will be emailed to committee members.   A template of a contract for hall users was also tabled.
An appendix to the terms and conditions was agreed and accepted.
Noise and alcohol issues were discussed.    Cr Ross McRobie offered to look into the by-laws for noise.   Hall users will have to acquire a alcohol licence if required.   A notice will also be placed on the door advising  -    “No alcohol past this point”.
Electrical appliances have been tagged and tested.
The maximum number for the hall capacity is 254.

Waitaki District Council roading manager Michael Harrison will be present at the Ahuriri Community Board meeting, March 8 (see notice below). All members are urged to be present and a notice is to be put out via the Omarama Gazette. Ahuriri community Board chairperson Vicky Munro hopes to be able to arrange a meeting with committee members prior to the Board meeting.

Vicky also told the committee measures had been taken to remedy the situation regarding the smelly, unemptied skip beside the public toilets. It is now clean and locked.  Due to low tourist numbers at the moment the three rubbish bins in the area may be sufficient in the meantime.  
The committee pointed out that it took a considerable amount of time to get the skip placed by the toilets and  was concerned that if it is taken away it will be difficult to get it back when tourism restarts. The skip was only being emptied when requested.  Vicky will check out the cost for emptying on a regular basis and report back to the committee.   The two big belly bins by the Campervan  Dump Station are emptied on a regular basis but are costing $1,000 each per month.

Friend of the School representative Emma Moore was to have spoken to the meeting but was unable to attend. Cr McRobie and committee member Hank Verheul spoke on her behalf to advocate for the library to be moved to the St Thomas Church building. 
It was explained that it was not the committee which had made the decision. The Waitaki District Libraries was offered the choice of buildings and had chosen to remain at the Community Hall.

Now that funding is available for the History Wall, Ann Patterson will contact a small group to help with contributions relating to the history of the area. It will also be publicised through the Omarama Gazette and people invited to contribute. Final decisions will be made at the April meeting.

Buying outdoor exercise equipment has previously been discussed and it was decided to apply for grants to fund this equipment as it was felt it would be of value to the community and also visitors to the area.

No funds had been received from the Waitaki District Council at the time of the meeting for our previously successful  applications - History Wall, Spider Swing, Hockey Goals, Community Hall Block Wall/Gate.  The Community Hall block wall/gate will be discussed at the March meeting as we had to resubmit another quote.
The next meeting of the 
Omarama Residents' Association is

7.30pm Thursday, March 18, 2021

at the Omarama Community Centre

An invitation is extended to all
Tony Chapman, chairperson, 027 242 8605.
Yvonne Jones, secretary, 027 476 7473. 
Could those who want to contact the association by mail, send accounts to be paid, or have correspondence considered at the monthly meetings ensure it is addressed to: 
The Secretary,  P O Box 93, Omarama 9448.
The association's email address is

To make a booking for an upcoming event or for more
information about hall hire and availability
please  contact  Michelle Kitchen, 027 280 54446

or email

Omarama Collie Dog Club
Omarama Collie Dog Club trials
March 7 and 8, 2021
2180 Omarama/Tarras Rd
Dalrachney Station
Secretary: Carla Hunter 03 976 0504
Entries close 10am on the second day

vs Ben Omar lambs, of Omarama.
Event II - short head and yard,
Tux South Island and New Zealand championship dog trials, Omarama, 2016.
The Waitaki Newcomers Network

For more information about this group and to subscribe to regular updates send contact details to

Contact: Christine Dorsey
027 242 8643
Abacus House
102 Thames Street
03 434 7544
‘The Community Reports' is
dedicated to news
from clubs, groups and sports teams.

Contributions are welcome 
Something to puzzle over
The Otematata Chronicle 

The Otematata Chronicle is published on the third Wednesday of the month.
The March issue is Wednesday, March 17, 2021.
The close-off is Friday, March 12.
The Chronicle is emailed to subscribers.
If you would like to subscribe or contribute please click the button below or email
To subscribe click here
Waitaki District Council - news in brief

Waitaki District Council’s Economic Development team, in collaboration with the Waitaki Tourism Association, Tourism Waitaki and the Oamaru Business Collective are inviting businesses in Waitaki who are involved in tourism-related activity to take a mid-season temperature check by completing a survey that will help everyone better understand how businesses are doing in the district and how the Economic Development team can assist them.

Emergency Management Otago is encouraging residents across the region to sign up to Gets Ready, a proven two-way communication tool which helps people better prepare for emergencies and be more informed, co-ordinated and resilient when they occur.

The council is is looking at ways to address the future effects of production and carbon forestry plantings through its District Plan which is under review. It would like to hear about what people think.

Pottery on Tyne is marking 50 years of the North Otago potters group with an exhibition at the Forrester Gallery, Oamaru. The exhibition opened February 20 and continues until April 4.
Waitaki has recently been reaccredited as a 'Safe Community'
, part of a New Zealand-wide network that supports wellbeing, placemaking, resilience and community safety initiatives.

Tourism Waitaki has released a 'Perfect Waitaki Summer' playlist put together with selections from the Waitaki community, local businesses, and Kiwi musicians including Stan Walker, Anna Coddington, Delaney Davidson, Mel Parsons and others

Ahuriri Community Board 
Waitaki District Council roading manager
Michael Harrison will be
at the Ahuriri Community Board meeting,
in Omarama, March 8. (See below)
Residents are urged to come along and hear what may be planned to remedy
the town centre traffic issues.

The next Ahuriri Community Board meeting

is 3.15pm Monday, March 8, 2021
at the Omarama Community Centre
Minutes and agendas can be found here
Environment Canterbury - news in brief

Environment Canterbury's draft Long-Term Plan 2021-31, which was adopted last month, shows the regional council intends to consult ratepayers on two options to increase regional activity across all areas of its responsibility. Both options require an increase in rates.

The Lake Alexandrina Conservation Trust has planted 1000 native sedges at West Creek, and another 2000 are on the way, thanks to almost $5000 of Immediate Steps biodiversity funding.
The planting took place recently with help from 18 trust members, farmers and Fish and Game staff.
A competition to find the best picnic spot 
in the Upper Waitaki area, run by Love Our Lakes, has revealed a closely fought battle between lakes Benmore and Aviemore, with Aviemore just taking the lead in the popularity stakes.

Environment Canterbury has notified Plan Change 7 to the Canterbury Land & Water Regional Plan (CLWRP) and Plan Change 2 to the Waimakariri River Regional Plan (WRRP). Read the overview presentation (PDF File, 5.09MB) and the information here to find out more about what this might mean for you.

Canterbury Regional Land Transport Committee has released its draft plan to outlines how the land transport network should develop over the next decade. The public can make submissions on the draft Plan until midday Friday, March 5, at

The International Wetlands Conference is to be held in Ōtautahi/Christchurch from October 10 to 15, 2021. Now planned as a hybrid live/online event (due to COVID travel restrictions), it will celebrate wetland stories from around the world with the theme of traditional knowledge and management woven throughout.
The event is being brought to Christchurch by the International Association for Ecology, National Wetlands Trust of New Zealand, New Zealand Freshwater Sciences Society, Australian Freshwater Sciences Society and ECan. Read more here

Wallabies, what's next?

Last month the Omarama Gazette reported dead wallabies had been found on the outskirts of town and that there had been other sightings of the pest in the area.
Environment Canterbury biosecurity team leader Brent Glentworth has provided this update about the National Wallaby Management Programme and the work it plans to undertake.

The NWMP was formed out of the 2020 Budget announcement, which allowed for central government funding to be made available to deal with growing populations of the Dama wallaby in the North Island and the Bennett’s wallaby in the South Island. Both populations have increased in geographic range and density, both passively and by human assistance (either as escaped pets or liberations).
The programme is a collaborative partnership model involving Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI), affected Regional Councils, Land Information NZ (LINZ), runanga (iwi), Department of Conservation (DOC), District Councils, Federated Farmers and, importantly, landowners.
Wallabies cause significant financial loss to production farming through competition for stock feed, pasture fouling, fence damage, destruction of plantation seedlings - estimated by Landcare Research in 2016 to be over $22 million.
Read more here

Upper Waitaki Water Zone Committee
The next meeting of ECan's 

Upper Waitaki Water Zone Committee meeting

is Friday, March 19, 2021
Venue to be confirmed
The Directory


phone 021 294 8002 or email

The Last Page is Classifieds 

Casual on-call hours weekend and nights.
Front-of-house and kitchen hand work.

Phone Tanya 027 673 1381

Management position on hill/high country station.
Also open to casual work.
20-plus years experience.
Phone Jason 022 0955 465
The weather that was - February 2021
The Garden Diary
The centre of the universe

It’s not often the magnolia grandiflora gets to flower and flower well in this garden. 
But if the blooms are not turned mushy brown by a sniper frost or a rogue downpour or the scorching breath of a nor’wester then the occasion is awe-inspiring. 
Grandiflora – sometimes called the ‘Bull Bay’ because of its large tough and leathery evergreen leaves – will not be rushed. 


Out of the great rosette of bronze-backed leaves the tapering tightly-closed bud reaches for the sky. 
A light, pale citrusy scent floats silk-like in humid air signalling the change from bud to bloom. 
Ever so gradually the creamy, waxy and overlapping petals unlock and open to reveal its intricate centrepiece.
The botanical terms are totally inadequate and, if I was a bee, you had me at ‘scent’. 
I swear this total extravagance must have been the inspiration for an intricate piece by Faberge.
If not, it should have been. 
For me, looking down into the deep bowl of petals brings on the same awestruck feeling as when, gazing up into the night sky, I'm drawn into the infinite depths of the Milky Way.
Lost in the wonder of it all I feel, oh, so small.
It’s not the only flower's bud which unlocks to reveal interior decorating like nothing you’ve seen. 
Some plants don’t bother much – why would you if you can get the job done with even half the effort and fuss. 
But I have single peonies which do the same, opening to an all plush grey velvet, lipstick pink and gold boudoir.
There are  a couple of hellebores which go all out, too, in cold mid-winter when there can be hardly any pollinators still awake to notice. But to me their scent is hardly alluring. It's more of a warning. Every bit of me is toxic, it declares.
Fingers’ crossed winter is still a way off. 
But the calendar has clicked over into autumn and signs are building. 
It’s chill in the mornings.
Te Taumata o Patuki draws his cloak of mists around his shoulders, and the dew falls heavily. 
The first thistledown fairy has floated into the garden and settled, wispy, in a spider’s web, silk on silk. 
The Japanese windflowers (anemones) lift their exquisite heads in the back of the borders.
While a rose’s summer flowering is welcome and frivolous, the autumn flowerings are bountiful, the colours and perfume mature and richer somehow. It is harvest.
Dainty Bess with her single china pink petals and red and gold stamens glows prettily under the Cornus – Dogwood  which is just tinting with colour.
Ruth Grundy
( I garden a small space under a big sky in Omarama)
The View from the Chook House
"Remember when we were all told the sky was falling?
Turns out, looking back, it was only an acorn."
Omarama Gazette
Editor: Ruth Grundy,
021 294 8002, 03 438 9766
Copyright © 2016-2020, Omarama Gazette, All rights reserved.

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