High turnout shows Cantabrians care

SAM SACHDEVA AND DAVID WILLIAMS
Last updated 11:48 16/05/2011
Expo
KIRK HARGREAVES

BIG IDEAS: Thousands of people attended the weekend's Share an Idea expo to offer their ideas for rebuilding Christchurch.

Expo
KIRK HARGREAVES
IN THE GROOVE: Steve Harris wears the definitive t-shirt for post-quake Christchurch.

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They came from far and wide, some with better ideas than others.

It was the quantity as much as the quality of ideas that mattered at the Share an Idea expo, with a turnout of more than 10,000 people showing that Cantabrians care about the future of their city centre.

Many people shared their ideas on colourful sticky notes, including one wag who suggested Christchurch needed more "pork chops".

Computers showing before and after images of the central city were popular, as was an area where people could construct their own city out of Lego bricks.

A Civil Defence video showing continuous footage of the damage in the central city drew a constant crowd, with people transfixed by the compelling pictures.

Comments on the "final thoughts" wall included "no high-rise killers of people" and "big grassy squares", while proposals for a green belt around the Avon River and colourful tiles in the Square and other meeting places received several ticks of support.

Master of ceremonies Mike Yardley said the most popular speakers were Canterbury University geologist Mark Quigley and Gehl Architects director David Sim.

New earthquake recovery chief Roger Sutton was also a hit, shaking hands and chatting with the crowd as he walked around the exhibits in his cycling gear.

Jeweller Jeremy Leeming and his wife, Jane Rennie, an urban designer, attended the expo with their three-month- old baby, Jacob.

Leeming said they came to make their lives better, adding: "This is our future we're talking about."

Rennie was surprised by the turnout.

"It's obviously shocking what's happened, but it gives us that chance to think outside the box and to take lots of great ideas and pull them together and to make this city better and stronger," she said.

Lucy Daeth, who works for the Canterbury District Health Board, made a day of it with her partner, three kids and two sets of friends. She wanted a city that looked beautiful and felt peaceful and healthy, she said.

"We'll know we have made it [as a city] when everyone who lives and visits Christchurch feels better for having spent time there."

Education consultant Derek Wenmoth visited the expo with his children to support "the great idea of citizen participation".

Jack, 13, and Lily, 10, said they enjoyed having an opportunity to share their ideas.

"I think it's good the way they've involved kids: you can draw a building or something and say what you want," Jack said.

He liked the idea of a monorail, while Lily wanted Christ Church Cathedral to be rebuilt as it was before the earthquake. Other children had more offbeat ideas, with artwork including proposals for hover cars, a giant dragon statue and a CBD volcano - perhaps unlikely to appeal to those who have had enough of natural disasters.

Caregiver Helen Powell said the rebuild was "an enormous opportunity to do something great for the ensuing generations".

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- The Press

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