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Q&A with Mark Paterson, GM Mataura Licensing Trust

Monday 14 May 2018

As the key Partner of the 2018 Hokonui Fashion Design Awards, Mataura Licensing Trust have supported the awards for many years.  We caught up with GM Mark Paterson to find out a bit more about what the trust does.

Q&A with Mark Paterson
General Manager, Mataura Licensing Trust

HFDA. What is the Mataura Licensing Trust?
To give you some background the licensing trusts movement was borne out of the anti-liquor feeling in the early 20th century. There was a period in the Mataura area from 1902 until 1954 when the region voted for and remained dry. In 1954 the district voted for restoration and in 1955 they had to vote for some form of public ownership or private enterprise. 58% voted for a licensing trust to be formed despite rigorous campaigning from private enterprise and the breweries.

Mataura Licensing Trust is a form of public ownership based on the sale of liquor being controlled by people in the community through elected representatives segregated into wards within that district. The brief at the time which is still relevant today was that the profits from the trust were to be redirected firstly to the establishment and upkeep of fine facilities in the district and secondly returned to the stakeholders ( the owners of the trust, ie every person on the electoral role within the trust area) in the form of donations, promotions, sponsorships and community projects.

HFDA. MLT are well known for their generous support of the community.  Can you tell us a bit more about this aspect of the trust? 

In general terms the trust gives back to the community approximately $500k from its gaming arm and $500k from the profit and loss account annually.

Since the 2002 referendum when our trusts preferential trading rights were challenged and revoked that the trust has given $18 million back to the district in all forms of sponsorship, donations, discounts and community projects too numerous to list but of which all people of Eastern Southland and West Otago and indeed surrounds to the trust boundary should be well aware and have benefited from in some form or other.

The status quo should be protected at all costs for this funding to continue to the stakeholders at current levels, as recent history has shown in places like Ashburton when you open up the boundaries there is no going back and the demise of the business comes swiftly and in some cases painfully.

HFDA. How long have you been with MLT?
32 years, I started in 1986 as assistant manager at Forest Lodge in Tapanui, was appointed manager of Longford Tavern in 1989 and promoted to the head office as System’s Development Manager in 1992. I was appointed General Manager in 2017.

HFDA. In your words, why does the MLT support initiatives like the Hokonui Fashion Design Awards?

The trust supports initiatives like the Hokonui Fashion Design Awards because that’s our game. Our mandate says we support worthy causes that benefit the district and the people of the district. This event ticks all the boxes in that it is good for the image of Gore, it involves a lot of people from the region, it bring a lot of people to Gore and they provide significant income for the businesses of Gore.

This year will see the trusts total contribution to the awards over the years exceeding $400K.

HFDA. What is Gore’s best kept secret?
Clearly the weather. Gore has a reputation for dull overcast days and cold weather but the reality is that the climate is conducive to top pastoral farming operations which the region is well known for and keeps the local economy buoyant. The old adage when farmers do well we all do well is no fallacy.

HFDA. If you were hosting visitors who had never been to Southland for a weekend, where would you take them and what would you do?
They would stay at the Heartland Hotel Croydon, lunch at the Howl at the Moon and dinner at the Thomas Green. I would engage the famous fisherman Bunny Burgess for a spot of fly fishing on the mighty Mataura in the morning followed by a visit to Jimmy Geddes Eastern Southland Gallery and the Hokonui Moonshine Museum in early the afternoon and finally a stroll around Dollamore Park.

HFDA. 2018 sees the Hokonui Fashion Design Awards celebrate their 30th year. What impact do you feel events like this have on the community?

Firstly I would like to congratulate the team involved in getting to this significant 30 year milestone when clearly there has been pressure over the years to take this event away from Gore. The financial impact on the community is hard to quantify in direct dollar terms but the feel good factor is amazing as there wouldn’t be many families in the region that wouldn’t be involved directly or indirectly in the staging of this event.

Secondly it brings income to the region at a time of year when things have slowed down a bit so we look forward to it with great anticipation each year and hopefully this event will carry on long into the future. I can guarantee the trust will be involved in its future as long as the volunteers that make this great event happen can still find the time and energy each and every year to carry on.