2023 Chairman's report



26th April 2023

This is my Chairman’s report for the year ending 31st December 2022.

Looking back at my last report of 2021 with all its covid related disruptions I am very pleased to report that 2022 has been very successful with happy tenants, happy locals & happy visitors.

We had a wonderful Network Waitaki Victorian Fete in November after the   cancelled 2021 fete. Thank you sincerely to Network Waitaki Ltd for their ongoing support & sponsorship and to Scott’s Brewery, Collective Café, Craftwork Brewery & The Criterion Hotel for their sponsorship.

Thank you also to all the Fete volunteers who turn up in the early hours every year to help out.

The Trust has had a busy year with many projects on the go and interesting new tenants taking up leases.

Our main project was the new commercial kitchen in the Criterion Hotel, the refurbishment of the existing kitchen & the makeover of the bar. This project was completed in conjunction with our tenants Katrina McLarin & Brenda Laverick. The main kitchen was always intended to be in the back lean-to part by the courtyard- that was in the original 1994 renovation plans.

Congratulations to Katrina & Brenda for a great outcome.

We have had a major tidy up & interior paint of 7 Tyne Street (Union Offices) which was the Bookbindery- Michael O’Brien has relocated his bindery to Craftwork Brewery after 29 years in that location (he might get around to some bookbinding one day!) - we welcome Stitch on Tyne- the growing empire of Wendy Simpson. Wendy has certainly cottoned on to a reel niche market there.

Also a welcome to Don Speden & Denise Kidd of Albannach Crafts – the Trust has refurbed the interior & exterior of their space on the Tyne Street side of Smiths Grain Store.

No2 Harbour Street (Harbour Board Office) was redecorated and Donna Kaiser set up her business Ageless Antidotes in that space.

Martin Horspool & Wendy Jones have set up Buggy Robot Gallery in 6A Harbour Street. Martin, Wendy & Wendy’s mum Judith are classic examples of the Auckland migration to Oamaru and the attraction of the Victorian Precinct.

Another new tenant to the Precinct is local business Oamaru Scaffolding who have moved into 17 Tyne Street which works well for them with drive in access from Tyne Street.

I would like to acknowledge two original tenants of the Trust who were mainstays in the Precinct in the early years and have retired and wound up their businesses - Colin Willetts of Willetts Furniture & Stuart Catto- Wool Buyer. Both Colin & Stuart set up here in 1990. Willetts Furniture, at one stage, leased all the buildings from where the Collective Café is now to the entire Loan & Merc Building. Stuart Catto had 17 Tyne St & No6 Harbour Street.

The Trust has given No6 Harbour Street (J&T Meek Blg) a complete clean up from ceiling to floor. John Baster has done a complete restoration of the east fan light and windows. It is an amazing building and I am pleased to welcome Cycle Journeys as our latest tenant. I look forward to hearing Geoff Gabites the director of Cycle Journeys as our guest speaker.

Craftwork Brewery have leased 10A Harbour Street where Willetts Furniture were. Michael O’Brien & Lee-Ann Scotti have certainly created an incredible attraction to the Precinct with the Belgium Brewery & Bar.

Moke Apparel continue to grow their business and have leased the 1st floor of the Loan & Merc.

Kat Rivison took over the lease of Harbour Street Collective Café last year.

Thank you to all our tenants. They are all supportive of one another and are all great people. I will mention them all as they are the Trust’s main assets after the buildings.

Some of these business’s have been here for many years like Slightly Foxed Bookshop, The Penguin Entertainers Club will celebrate their 33rd birthday this year and Donna Demente’s Grainstore Gallery has its 21st anniversary this year. Donna’s gallery has become a very popular entertainment space bringing amazing musicians and entertainers to Oamaru. Donna first set up her studio 28 years ago in the mezzanine floor at the front of the Grainstore.

Other business’s that continue to play a big part in the Precinct are Harbour Street Bakery – famous for their pies and ‘cro-nuts’, the Collective Café, The Movement Hub, Presence on Harbour (thank you to Dawn & her staff for wheeling out the penny farthing every day), Rose’s General Store, The Textile Emporium, The Model Rail Club, the Steam Punk galleries & shops of Studio Realm, Taylormade & Regalia. Brent Harpur with his cartoons & classes, the artists galleries of The Loft and Crafted, the Glass Room, Housekeepers Design and the Loan & Merc Event Centre, Hub & Sprocket Cycles and

 a special mention to our slightly elder tenants of The Stables where the average age is about 85- they all do a great service of opening up the Stables everyday, chatting to everyone that pops in or walks past and they add a touch of maturity to the Precinct!

Over 30 business’s – all owner operated and interesting, all adding to this great cultural hub that locals and visitors embrace. 

We are fully tenanted with a waiting list of potential tenants.


I will take this opportunity to sincerely thank all our volunteers and Trust staff.

The Victorian Wardrobe team meet every week all year round. They create costumes, hire out all sorts of Victorian clothing and display authentic attire.

They repair & maintain our amazing collection of garments.

The Wardrobe is also a large fundraiser for the Trust. During the year of 2022 there were over 1640 visitors to the Wardrobe. They have had over 500 through the door this year already. This year the Victorian Wardrobe celebrate 30 years of operating and they have written a booklet of the History of The Victorian Wardrobe which you can purchase – all profits go to the Wardrobe. The final paragraph reads ‘The Victorian Wardrobe is believed to be the largest collection of replica Victorian garments available for hire in the world’! On behalf of the Trust I thank Dawn Sutherland, Elizabeth McLachlan, Hazel Poole, Ruth MacEachern, Deborah Taylor & Lyn Gray and everyone else I have missed out.

The Oamaru & Waitaki Visitor Information Centre and Whitestone City has once again been very successful.  The number of visitors through the doors  for 2022 was over 22000. What a fantastic result- well done to Carolyn Lewis and the team- Liz Mortensen, Joanne Rose, Renene Jelley, Sarah Langley, Lesley Hodgson, Poppie O'Donoghue, Jessie Byrne & Sophie Webb and a special thanks to Natalie Evans who has been helping with the financials.

Thank you to Michelle Harrison – our Property Manager & Treasurer and to  John Baster – our Building Maintenance & Project Officer. Both John and Michelle have a great rapport with our tenants, contractors and Council staff and both are valuable assets to the Trust

Over the past year there has been many maintenance and administrative projects completed thanks to the dedication & passion for their work.

Thank you to the Trustees – Frances McElhinney, Jane Campbell,        Sue McLean, Richard Vinbrux, Brian Harrison & Jan Omnet.

To Sue & Jane, I hope you have enjoyed your time with the Board and will continue to be involved with the Precinct, which I am sure you will be, with Sue as part of the Crafted Collective and Jane with the Jazz & Blues Festival.

A small gift of our appreciation to you both.

Welcome to David Wilson and Janette McKenzie, we look forward to working with you both. David was a pioneer in the formation of the Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust & a Life Member and Janette has a strong interest in the area & has been a volunteer for the Trust for several years. Janette is also an endowment member of the Trust.

It was 35 years ago that the concept of a charitable trust be established by the NZ Historic Places Trust and the Oamaru Borough Council and a feasibility study was commissioned & so began the journey of The Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust repurposing old warehouses, grain-stores & wool-stores into commercial spaces with amenities, galleries, shops & workshops- adaptive re-use of heritage buildings that had been forgotten & neglected.

The Trust has achieved a great deal over the last 35 years and will continue to do so – I am proud to be part of this organisation and hope that the Council, the new economic development body that is being formed and the people of the Waitaki district will support our Trust and Precinct.

Once again, I will finish my report with the Trust’s vision- Preserving Oamaru’s Victorian Precinct and developing the buildings and streets into a destination locals embrace, visitors want to experience and which drives economic growth and community pride.

So, in three words Preserve, Protect & Promote.

Thank you

Graeme Clark- Chairman- Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust


This product has been added to your cart