Have you been to Eastwoodhill this year?

24 February 2012

New general manager Dana Kirkpatrick is on a mission to increase the number of visitors that come to Eastwoodhill.

If you live in Gisborne and you have never been to Eastwoodhill Arboretum – then look out, you are on the new arboretum general manager’s target list.

Local business woman Dana Kirkpatrick has been appointed into the role and she has a dream -  that every Gisborne person will have been to Eastwoodhill – the national arboretum – at least once a year. Not only that – but they will go away and tell everyone who ever comes to stay with them that this is one place they have to see.

“Eastwoodhill is a jewel in Eastland’s crown and we need to make sure every person in Gisborne knows it. We need to develop and grow our offering and we need to make sure we are on the must see lists."

Ms Kirkpatrick said Eastwoodhill was the result of a vision by founder Douglas Cook, a dream and financial commitment from H.B.Williams and some serious hard work by volunteers, board members, families, staff and friends of the arboretum. She is delighted to be able to work with such a passionate group of people who all have a great love for this place she said.

In the past few years Eastwoodhill has opened up to mountain biking days, better education resources and as a venue for all sorts of team building, orienteering and leisurely activities.

Ms Kirkpatrick says it offers different things to different people. For some it is a place of tranquillity and space, for some it is the botany and rarity of some species while for others it is a place to let the kids run and have fun.

“I would like to think it is the kind of place that every Gisborne person comes to once a year at least, it all helps.”

Ms Kirkpatrick’s first task is to develop and finalise the three year business plan which will ready the organisation for decisions on exciting new developments in the future.

 “I think we have opportunities here that cannot be offered anywhere else in the country, not just as  a tourist destination but as a collection, as a safe haven for rare and unique trees and plants and as an education centre for all local schools and preschools."

“We need to embrace technology and how we can use that better and we need to celebrate the fact that here in Gisborne is the national arboretum, a garden of national significance and a place that people come from all over the world to see.”

Eastwoodhill chair Lee Newman said the board was pleased to have a local person at the helm who could help lift the profile of the organisation and apply some good organisational support to the Board and volunteers.

“We know our primary audience is Gisborne people and Dana will work hard with local businesses as well as Tourism Eastland and other groups to ensure Eastwoodhill is on track."

“Whilst we are primarily botanically focused with an interest in the tourist market, we also need to focus on our long term sustainability as a charitable organisation that needs a commercial business approach applied to it.”

Ms Kirkpatrick is also the managing director of local company Expresspr and has been a senior manager in local government in the Bay of Plenty prior to shifting back to Gisborne in 2004. She began her career as a cadet reporter at the Gisborne Herald, won the Young Journalist of the Year award at the Hauraki Herald and moved into communications and public relations in the year 2000 following three years at the Bay of Plenty Times.

She has won two awards for projects at the Rotorua District Council and more recently has been successful in raising the profile of the ECT Eastland Rescue Helicopter, initiation of the Dancing with the Stars event for Poverty Bay Hockey and marketing for Eastwoodhill Arboretum.