Plans to turn Arrowtown's historic Dudley's Cottage into a tourism hub feeding the adjacent Chinese miners' village have been welcomed by two high-profile Chinese New Zealanders.
Former Dunedin mayor Peter Chin and Dunedin community historian Jim Ng have been instrumental in bringing the proposed Otago Chinese Miners Heritage Trail to fruition and have come out in support of Arrowtown developer Scott Stevens' plans to construct an information centre at the pioneer cottage as a base for guided walks at the Chinese settlement.
Public submissions closed last month on the plan, which also includes 4WD tours and gold panning.
Out of 25 submissions, five were opposed - mainly due to concerns about the Chinese miners' village.
Earlier this month Mr Stevens defended the proposal, saying it was "based around celebrating the Chinese history in the area, and complementing the Chinese village is fundamental".
Mr Ng dismissed objectors' concerns and said he thought Mr Stevens was genuine in his intentions.
"He knows that if he is to prosper, then the mining village has to prosper and he has to fit in with the ethos and ambience," he said.
The trail is pitched at the growing number of Chinese tourists and Mr Ng said that in China, it was "the norm" to have shops and stalls near historical tourist sites. In that regard, he said, Mr Stevens' plan was unlikely to offend Chinese cultural sensibilities.
As part of the Otago Forward group, Mr Chin helped commission a feasibility study into the Chinese Miners Heritage Trail and said the Dudley's Cottage plan was a "positive" idea.
"Mr Stevens is going to augment what's in Arrowtown - that can only be good. He's restoring Dudley's Cottage, which will add to the whole visitor experience and fill out the entire history.
"If someone's got the initiative, and it's going to be helpful, then go for it," Mr Chin said.
Mr Stevens said his idea for Dudley's Cottage had come from reading about plans for the Chinese Miners Heritage Trail.
"To hear that Mr Ng and Mr Chin support the proposal is very good news. It definitely means I'm pointing in the right direction," he said.
- email@example.com By Matt Stewart on Sat, 30 Apr 2011