Views on the Christchurch blueprint

22:56, Sep 26 2012
Christchurch blueprint
The Avon River Precinct.
Christchurch blueprint
BLUEPRINT: The new Christchurch Convention Centre Precinct.
Christchurch blueprint
The Frame.
Christchurch blueprint
The proposed new city layout.
Christchurch blueprint
Te Puna Ahurea/Cultural Centre.

In the first of a two-part feature, those affected by the blueprint share their views.

Te Puna Ahurea/Cultural Centre
Hirini Matunga, professor of indigenous planning and assistant vice-chancellor (Māori and Pacifica) at Lincoln University.

The Cultural Centre reinforces the city's post-colonial identity symbolically and in a very real way through its physical presence. The centre will include mana whenua [territorial rights], Ngāi Tuahuriri and Ngāi Tahu in a city that, until relatively recently, excluded them. Christchurch has always celebrated its Englishness and English heritage but silenced mana whenua and negated its location in Te Wai Pounamu [the South Island]. This is an opportunity to put our history back into the city, relocating Christchurch in Aotearoa and Te Wai Pounamu and reinstating Ōtākaro [the Avon River] as the lineal heart of the city.

I think urban designers are wondering what is meant by a post-colonial city and what this might mean for the design and layout of the new Christchurch. Clearly, the earthquakes were a major disaster for the city and its inhabitants. However, from this has come a historic opportunity to rethink the city in a modern context. Urban designers are rising to this challenge. They are having to think outside the proverbial square, but that's what is needed. If they didn't, they'd be failing generations to come and, worse still, not commemorating those who were lost in this disaster.

The centre's location is historically very important. Victoria Square was known as Market Square and was where Ngāi Tahu and early settlers traded their goods and services, interacted and engaged with each other. It was a place for lively exchange, not only of goods, but ideas, too.

The Cultural Centre will be a place to celebrate being Ngāi Tahu and Ngāi Tuahuriri. It will be a centre for cultural revitalisation for the future, a place to welcome guests and visitors to the new post-colonial Christchurch, and a thriving tourist attraction for all visitors - local, national and international. The area will form a real and culturally symbolic waharoa [entranceway] to the new city.


Christchurch has been conceptualised as a marae, with the Cultural Centre at its heart. No doubt there will be other entrances and places for performing important ceremonies, but there can only ever be one primary entry point for welcoming and ultimately farewelling our manuhiri [visitors] and this is it. Exciting isn't it?

Papa o Ōtākaro/Avon River Precinct and the Frame
Simone Rewa Pearson, resident

I believe the Avon River Precinct needs to be more than a narrow strip of land. It requires Frame land permanently and management to create a sustainable, ecological waterway. The attractive, safe walkways and cycleways will be a great asset for residents, city workers and tourists alike, and I would like to see the river lit at night, to make it sparkle like Sydney's waterfront.
The Frame sounds good, but would be enhanced by a repaired Centennial Pool. Restoring the pool would bring new activity, trade and life back into the central city in short order, not years in the future.

I think the central city recovery strategy does not adequately address the transitional needs of residents during the five to 10-year rebuild.

I question whether we are making the right decision for our children to stay, considering what they might be missing out on in the meantime, but I love living in the tree-lined Chester St East area. We know a lot of people in our community, can walk or scooter the kids to school, and have Pomeroy's as our local pub.

It is an interesting time to be here to witness and influence the change.

Retail Precinct
Mary Devine, managing director of Ballantynes

The opportunity to plan a co-ordinated retail and commercial precinct over four blocks is fantastic. Re:Start has shown us what can be achieved with vision and collaboration and now we can apply this on a larger scale. Globally, retailing is rapidly changing and we will embrace this in a new retail configuration.

The public can expect international fashion retailers, local boutiques, retailers and/or brands distinctive to Canterbury. Access and parking are important and I believe both will be addressed through the rebuild. Technology will be a key player and, as in most international shopping malls, Apple is a dominant retailer. The mix of food and hospitality is also highly important.

As distinct from the suburban malls, the area will have exclusive retail stores, an innovative approach to retailing, and a mix of retail, hospitality, commercial and residential opportunities within interactive, light and airy spaces. I'm sure over the next few months more specifics around this plan will develop.

We are delighted with the framework the new city plan has provided and are committed to being part of the plan. Ballantynes will work alongside the Christchurch Central Development Unit as the plans evolve and identify development opportunities for us as they arise.

Convention Centre Precinct
Russell Kenny, general manager of Vbase

We are absolutely confident national and international conferences will return to Christchurch.

The Convention Centre will be four times the size of the previous one. It is anticipated to have a much higher number of breakout/workshop rooms, a purpose-built banquet room, and larger trade and exhibition spaces and plenary areas. This versatile space will accommodate a variety of events, from prizegivings to trade shows, and has the capacity to hold multiple concurrent conferences, something impossible in the old Convention Centre. Pre-earthquakes, plans were in motion to increase the size of the old facility, which was no longer meeting the changing needs of conferences.
We have received numerous inquiries and assurances that conferences will return to Christchurch. The new Convention Centre will take multiple, smaller conferences (500 to 2500 people) and complement a proposed Auckland facility, which will be ideal for single, large conferences.

The old Convention Centre annually injected about $80 million into the Canterbury economy, and I agree with estimates that the new Convention Centre could increase conference and convention business by at least 40 per cent.

We are still waiting for specific details on spaces and the hotels, retail and commercial developments in the surrounding area, but the sooner everything is confirmed, the sooner conferences and events will commit to Christchurch.
Performing Arts Precinct
Ross Gumbley, artistic director of The Court Theatre

With Christchurch having lost so many venues, it is heartening to see the blueprint has been designed to answer the various needs of the city's audiences.

The blueprint has embraced the value, and indeed the necessity, of the arts in the rebuild. It describes a new Court Theatre as one of the inner-city anchor projects and shows the new Court as part of the Performing Arts Precinct on Armagh St.

The two auditoria, with 500 and 1500 seats, are the possible replacement venues if the Christchurch Town Hall is not rebuilt on its current site. While The Court is a separate project, I think there will undoubtedly be opportunities for collaboration with others in the precinct - the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra and the Music Centre - which is very exciting.
We look ahead with great excitement to this new venue, knowing that our stages will have a great relationship with the audience. Both the main house and studio space will be, by their nature, intimate.

The city has a unique opportunity to create state-of-the-art facilities that will make Christchurch a city, not only of the future, but of the present, and the most exciting in New Zealand.