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Neat Places plans to expand

GEORGINA STYLIANOU
Last updated 05:00 04/01/2013
Marcia Butterfield
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/Fairfax NZ

THE PLACE TO BE: Marcia Butterfield created Neat Places because she was sick of hearing people say there was nowhere to go and nothing to do in Christchurch.

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Marcia Butterfield kick-started her career in communications and public relations in London before returning home to complete a postgraduate diploma in marketing.

Butterfield, 28, works as a web editor in Rangiora and also handles public relations for the Art Beat programme in the Re:Start container mall.

The Christchurch City Council asked her for ideas on how to promote the central city after the February earthquake last year and she was behind the pocket guides issued by the council this year.

Two years ago, Butterfield asked a friend to help her build a website called Neat Places, a forum that would serve as an "independent guide to the best places in the city".

"I started Neat Places at the end of 2010 but it wasn't really in response to the [September 2010] earthquake, it was in response to people's attitudes, which I guess might have been a by-product of the quake."

Butterfield said she was sick of hearing people say there was "nowhere to go and nothing to do" in Christchurch.

"I wanted to prove people wrong. After the February [2011] earthquake, Neat Places took on a different approach and I started focusing on what was open, new places and relocations, as well as the older places," she said.

The website covers five categories - Eats and Drinks, Fashion, Home and Living, The Arts, and See and Do, and Butterfield recently started profiling "cool people doing cool things".

"I love going into a new place, talking to the owners and hearing their stories, then enjoying what is on offer, taking pictures and writing about it."

She said keeping up with new places opening in the city had been "quite overwhelming".

"Neat Places isn't meant to be a comprehensive directory of what to do or where to go. It's opinion, my opinion; it's the places I love."

Her website receives about 12,000 hits a month and has a large following on Facebook and Twitter.

Before the February 2011 quake she had six posts on the website. Now there are about 200.

"It's been a really enjoyable venture," Butterfield said.

She hopes to secure funding to be able to give paid work experience to young photographers and writers.

She also hopes to expand Neat Places to include all big centres in New Zealand.

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- The Press

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