As a confounding factor in our efforts to attract young families, we might also see a rise in property values in the Karamea area in step with an increase in perceived desirability. In the medium to long term, this will drive the development cycle. New, quality housing stock is desperately needed for the area, as much of the existing stock is old and cold. By providing a heightened economic incentive to developers, we may succeed in finally cracking this perennial tough nut that hinders the long-term growth of Karamea.
Social media campaign. At the heart of the promotional activities will be a three-year social media campaign, primarily via Facebook, to promote Karamea to New Zealanders. The goal of this campaign will be two-fold. Firstly, by attracting visitors to our town, we will see our existing businesses prosper, and we may even see the emergence of new businesses, especially those that can capitalize on seasonal peaks. Secondly, we expect that some proportion of these new visitors will “fall in love” with Karamea, and will become candidates for active recruitment for relocation. We see New Zealanders as the most tractable target audience for relocation, and there are some sectors of the community that could be sought out through carefully targeted selective Facebook advertising. This emphasis on attracting New Zealanders to Karamea dovetails nicely with the post-Covid-19 reality that overseas tourists are simply not going to be coming to support the local economy in the numbers we have become used to. This strategy gives our community a chance at making up at least some of the anticipated shortfalls.
Although a number of Facebook pages with Karamea content currently exist, including one page operated by the Karamea Information & Resource Centre, none of these pages have been resourced to enable them to conduct a focused ad campaign to bring people to Karamea. This is an easy and obvious strategy, with the potential for profound benefits. A number of other organisations exist to promote the West Coast (https://www.facebook.com/WestCoastNZ/ ) and Northern Buller (https://www.facebook.com/northenwestcoast/ ), but their efforts are spread over a very large target region, and the impact on Karamea is likely to be small. A strategy focused on Karamea, and run by Karamea people is the only way our community is likely to see tangible benefits.
Print campaign and desktop publishing. We request support for staff training in desktop publishing and design so that more, perhaps all, of our design work needs can be completed in-house. Canva is available for free to non-profit organizations, but some time for staff training will be needed. We also anticipate that additional specialist software may be required for tasks beyond the scope of Canva. These newly acquired skills will be applied to a suite of publications from the Centre, many of which appear dated, and do not represent Karamea at its best. They will also allow the Centre to offer a broader range of business and social services to the community, which will help ensure long-term viability of the Centre while strengthening the resources available locally to the community.
2. Retention and strengthening our community.
Welcome Package/Civil Defence Information: can include a free copy of Karamea phone list, a free one-year email subscription to the Karamea Chronicle, and a handy guide to Getting Established in Karamea (this will need to be compiled, and will be available in both print and digital formats).
We wish to set-up a pool of “Karamea Ambassadors”: local volunteers who are willing to make themselves available to meet over morning or afternoon tea with new residents and to help them feel welcome, and answer any questions they might have in a relaxed, one-on-one setting.
The Centre maintains a Karamea Community phone list. The phone list is now available on a print-to-order basis, meaning that it can be kept current and useful.
Karamea Community Facebook: Two of our staff members are Admin for a new Karamea Community Facebook group that is locally and actively administered. The group has seen quite rapid growth since being set up. This group provides a useful forum for discussions that promote community well-being.
Community website. There is a substantial resource already existing in the form of the Karamea Community website (karamea.nz), but the volunteer-powered website suffers from a lack of regular updates. The Centre proposes that it allocates some time and strengthens its commitment to ensuring the Community website is kept up-to-date and current.
Universal access to Digital Resources. Being comfortable and competent in the use of digital technologies is a vital skill in today’s world, and even more so in a remote place such as Karamea. The recent lockdowns due to Covid-19 made us acutely aware that not everyone in our community is up to speed in this regard, and we propose to offer complimentary weekly digital clinics, where community members can drop by with their devices (or use a Centre Chromebook) and their questions. Hosting these clinics is one way in which the Info Centre can ensure that all community members are benefiting from the changes taking place in the wider world, and that nobody is being left behind. In support of these activities, we would require a set of four Chromebooks ($613 each) that can be used in small instruction groups. In the event of another lockdown, these Chromebooks would also be made available on loan to community members who lack devices at home, and relied on the Centre being open for their access to the internet. This was a request we had during the last lockdown, and that we were unable to meet. Finally, in order to facilitate broader access to digital resources, we intend to make WiFi free at the Centre for all locals and visitors.
Satellite communications community backup. Karamea is vulnerable to communications blackouts, as one fibre optic cable connects our telecommunications to the rest of the national network. On several occasions during this past winter, rats gnawed through the fibre optic cable, and left Karamea without access to landline phones, cellphones, and internet. Residents were not even able to place emergency calls. We propose that the Info Centre acquires the capability to offer satellite broadband as an emergency backup. Installation costs will be $1500, plus travel. Monthly rate will be 1GB of data for $29, with usage needing to be restricted to three or less consecutive months to avoid requiring a regular plan ($139 per month). For a relatively modest fee, Karamea gains invaluable added security that it can get help when it is needed. The benefits extend well beyond emergencies. A backup internet service would support those who work online. An unstable network completely undermines and renders unviable an online business, yet with the surety of an emergency backup, confidence is restored.
Back-up generator of sufficient capacity to be able to keep the Info Centre operational during extended power outages.