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​​​Born in Te Kuiti – the abode of the valley, aloft in Rotorua – the abode of the additional lake, Catlins agent and newbie Clutha Commune councillor Dane Catherwood swears Owaka – the abode of canoes, is area they’ll backpack him out, like a Viking on a afire boat. Reporter Mary-Jo Tohill talks to him about his affection for Owaka and the Catlins’ tourism potential.

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In 2007, Clutha developer and commune councillor Dane Catherwood went to Jack’s Bay in the Catlins for an adventitious amusement with his wife Sarah.

After a animated accession to their bells in Wanaka area they met in the 1990s, and had been active on and off until their marriage, the brace were attractive for a bit of accord and quiet.

Mary-Jo Tohill/Stuff

New Clutha Commune councillor Dane Catherwood and agent describes himself, pictured in the man-cave absorbed to his retail abundance in Owaka, in the Catlins.

“We were active through Pounawea, and Sarah said how abundant it reminded her of the ancestors bach in Northland.”

The above Aucklander promptly bought a bald area at the accepted day-tripper spot, abreast the Catlins boondocks of Owaka. To say her new bedmate had misgivings was an understatement.

“I said to Sarah, ‘I’m never blood-soaked active there. It rains too much’.”

Mary-Jo Tohill/Stuff

The Bake House architecture endemic by Dane Catherwood, at Owaka.

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Famous aftermost words, because quicker than he could say Catlins, the above axial Arctic Islander begin himself accepting out of Wanaka, abstention the all-around banking crisis and aerial absorption ante –  and active in a band in Pounawea.

“It was absolutely Escape to the Catlins. It wasn’t absolutely alien because I’d appear through actuality in the 90s and admired how agrarian it was.”

A adviser in a above life, and still a fisheries officer, Catherwood lived the dream for six months, hunting, diving and fishing – until he got bored.

He’d awash developments in Wanaka, and his auto-mechanic abilities had kept him financially afloat. So, aback the befalling presented itself he was in a position to buy some old buildings in Owaka.

He bought the above annihilation architecture and was activity to catechumen it into a bistro but afflicted tack aback the town’s above booth came up for sale.

“I spent about one and a bisected years refurbishing it, for Sarah to become self-employed.”

But affairs and affairs changed, and they awash the diner.

 “That was activity to be it, we were activity to move away, but because of my assignment at Owaka Motors (which he managed for three years), and accepting to accommodated locals, I was approached by bounded character Bruce Wilson to see if I’d be absorbed in affairs the aboriginal bakery.”

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This rusticly-picturesque architecture now contains the Bake House Takeaways in the balustrade section. It additionally has a chill-out and aesthetic space, the Bake House Gallery in the old bakery allotment – complete with the old ovens, which Catherwood hopes to blaze up one day.

The apology advance him to demography on the architecture abutting door, which houses The Catlins Country Abundance allowance boutique and the absolute Dougie’s Shed, a rustic man-cave awash abounding of colonial backcountry memorabilia. Some of his own memories are there too, including the family’s aboriginal party-line buzz in rural Te Kuiti.  He has advancing affairs to aggrandize and enhance both spaces.

Catherwood has a affection for Owaka and its tourism potential.

 “This is a admirable place. The tourists were advancing through actuality but they didn’t stop. Let’s accord them article to stop for.  I didn’t accept to body it. It was already there.”

In the accomplished 11 years, he has managed to accounts the projects by accomplishing a fly in, fly out job in Australia as a artisan for a seismic analysis company, and again managing Owaka Motors for three years, up until recently.

He and his wife awash the aboriginal area and are now renovating a 100-year cottage, as able-bodied as developing a farmlet at Pounawea. They awash the annihilation architecture to business bodies in Owaka, and six years ago, became parents to a daughter, Casey.

They are committed to the Catlins.

“I’ve befuddled a hell of a lot of banknote at those buildings, but there’s no axis aback now.

“Look out, there’s added to come.”

A mad dreamer?

The 47-year-old bisected disagrees.

“Mad yes. I accept apprenticed myself mad a few times – again there’s the brutal weather. But dreamer? No, because every one of my dreams, I accept done.”

And aloof aback activity couldn’t get added complicated, he was adopted assimilate Clutha Commune Board in October 2019, binding out the Catlins area sitting member, Hilary McNab.

One of the capital drivers for absent to get on board was what he was active on – the district’s famous/infamous alluvium roads. About 75 per cent of Clutha’s anchorage are gravel.

As a mechanic, Catherwood said he had been accepting far too up abutting and claimed with crashes and comatose vehicles.

“Bad driving? Unfamiliarity with the roads? Maybe. But it’s added to do with bad roads.”

Accepting on board was not article he’d anytime aspired to, but he anticipation he’d accord it a go “after years of actuality laughed at and fobbed off”.  So, with aloof canicule afore nominations closed, he paid his $200 and put his billowing fishing hat in the ring.

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 “I had a appealing simple campaign. It went on an A4 area of paper, in which I pulled afar the council’s banking pre-election report.  I’ve watched our amount infrastructure, abnormally our anchorage and carrion go into decline. Does the Catlins accept to about-face into a one lane alley afore annihilation gets done? So, it was bold on. Let’s get aback to basics. “

Catherwood would call himself as a grafter.

He got a aftertaste for adamantine assignment aback his parents endemic a 21-unit cabin in Rotorua, which he could run himself by the time he was 12 years old. He was a fishing adviser at 14.

On abrogation school, he became a motor mechanic, but had a admiring to travel.

In the aboriginal 1990s he chock-full en avenue at Wanaka – and fell in adulation with the southern basin town.

He got a job on the ski fields and as a disciplinarian and guide, with his automated abilities additionally put to acceptable use.

They took him to Africa for bristles years, area he collection and guided seven-month continued overland safaris from London to Cape Town.

“Driver, mechanic, guide, babysitter, mother, alliance counsellor, psychiatrist, chic antic – I was everything.”

The job additionally basic replenishing the agile with a cruise to Germany every year, to acquirement an ex-military barter and catechumen it for safaris.

Aback his dad died in 2000, he alternate to New Zealand to advice his mum actuate of the motels so she could retire.

Again it was aback to Africa, to Zambia, area he and two added guys developed a houseboat business on Basin Kariba, the world’s third better counterfeit basin and reservoir, forth the bound amid Zambia and Zimbabwe.  

He did this for about four years. They were based at Sinazongwe, on the arctic bank of Basin Kariba.

“It was a appealing amazing life. You’d deathwatch up in the morning to hippos, but activity in the backcountry could be aggravating at times.”

The bounded bodies had absent their affiliated acreage aback the basin was created and were confused to abundant poorer land. It was over-populated, Aids was rife, forth with malaria.

“Oh yeah, I got it (malaria) lots. There’s not abundant that I don’t apperceive about it.”

They alternate to Wanaka in 2006.  

He said his across acquaintance had accomplished him that annihilation was chargeless – and nor should it be in his assessment – which was why abandon camping was such a advancing affair for him.

However, he laid albatross for allocation it out with the government.   

“Freedom camping is a axial government issue. Unfortunately, the ratepayer is larboard to aces up the tab.”

Axial government had to “man up”, and array its blend out and soon, he said.

“I don’t accept we should be giving New Zealand abroad for free, abnormally actuality in the Catlins, because of the airiness of the environment.”

 “We acceptable them (tourists), we appetite their money, yet aback they appear into our districts, they cantankerous an abstract line, area there are a altered set of rules for anniversary one.”

In Africa and Europe, there were two rates, one for locals, the added for tourists, which was a archetypal that New Zealand should be following, “so that New Zealanders aren’t advantageous for a agglomeration of chargeless loaders who aren’t abrogation any money abaft and are wearing-out our infrastructure,” he said.

He was befitting a “friendly” eye on the new abandon camping armpit that the board afresh alien in the average of Owaka.

 “It’s a trial,” he said firmly.

He was not against to the site, so continued as it “discouraged capricious camping” abroad in the Catlins.

Tourism was basic to the district’s survival, he said.

“Without it, we can’t absorb our adolescent bodies and families, because it’s the adolescent bodies who break on to ample the key position in the community.”

The Catlins bare to not advertise itself short.

“I’d rather be bottomward there at Jack’s Bay with 20 bodies spending $200 per actuality than 200 bodies spending $2.”

The Catlins additionally bare to  attract the bodies who were annoyed of Queenstown and would absorb money in the district.

“People say to me, ‘This is the absolute New Zealand. This is what it acclimated to be.’.”

While toiling abroad at his businesses, he was additionally advancing to grips with the absoluteness of actuality a councillor.

“I’ve never done annihilation like it before. I’m still winging it. I’m attractive advanced to the winter aback I’ve got a bit of blow to do some webinars and get appropriate into it.”

For the aboriginal time in his life, he’s cutting a clothing and a tie.

“I didn’t alike get affiliated in one.”  

He had not ashen his exuberance.

“I anticipation about that. I was activity to be quiet, but nah. I’m raw and true. I won’t be rude. But raw and accurate is what I am.”

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