Bluff, Council · 14 Apr 2021

Lush Delivers Strong Words to Council about Bluff

Aimee Wilson

Aimee Wilson

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It sounds as if the heart and soul of Bluff has been ripped apart over the years, and new councillor Marcus Lush wants the council to repair it.

Starting with the broken playground so his children have somewhere to go, but overall he wants the town to be just a vital and functioning place again.

Lush apologised to fellow councillors about his “rant” in the Invercargill City Council’s performance, policy and partnerships committee meeting, which related to the tourism master plan involving Bluff.

Lush is the first person to represent the council from Bluff in years, and told the meeting that council’s attitude towards Bluff was almost a ‘paternalistic’ attitude from the city. 

“It seems almost like the great reviver of Bluff will be tourism.  I think we need to acknowledge that the very distinct function that Bluff has.   It’s not an Otatara, it’s a very separate place from Invercargill.”

He believed the council was “absolving” itself from the responsibility of the town by focusing on tourism, instead of helping it become a thriving community town.

Bluff had managed to prosper despite its many industry closures, “but if you look at the town hall, which was given to us, is terrible.  The library and service centre are extremely run down…it seems like council has done nothing for Bluff to make it a great community,” he said.

Acknowledging the Marae and the Oyster festival – both of which were community led, Lush said the council had the wrong attitude towards Bluff, and had just let it slip away.

Lush owns a home in Bluff with his partner and children, who can’t use the local playground “because it’s unfit for purpose,” and it’s clear he’s not just looking out for himself, but the entire community.

“If we have tourism then we have more Air B&Bs, and then no rentals for those who live there, and so I wonder if we have this whole focus on Bluff back to front?”

He said the council needs to look at Bluff not as a tourism destination, but as a community that is absolutely unique in New Zealand.  “And if that happens the tourism will follow.”

Mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt said he’d always been a fan of Bluff and believed the community had a pretty good political representation.

He bought a 3-bedroom house for just $5000 when he first moved South, and councillor Graham Lewis said he once traded as a pharmacist locum in Bluff.

So there has been life in this old town over the years.   But apparently there is nowhere to get coffee?  And that’s putting the tourists off.

We’ll leave that one for the council to debate.

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