You may notice a change in the Christchurch skyline this month with the first of the steel trusses being placed to support the roof of the Convention Centre.
These first trusses span 50 metres and sit over the 1400-person auditorium. They give you the first real opportunity to gain some appreciation of the scale of the facility, which occupies two city blocks.
In total around 4500 tonnes of primary and secondary steel will be required for the building.
About a third of the facility’s 25000m3 of concrete has now been poured, with work on the foundation of the 3600m2 multi-use exhibition hall currently underway.
Concrete pumps have also been hard at work on the walls, which are being poured in place rather than being trucked in as the more conventional precast panels. This is because supporting the roof over these large open spaces and achieving the appropriate earthquake resilience requires walls around half a metre think. As a result, it would very difficult to truck in precast panels this thick and heavy.
A great place to watch ‘François’ the French tower crane and the German crawler crane ‘Helping Hans’ go about their work on the Convention Centre is Victoria Square. When the facility opens in 2020 it will be the other way around, with the Convention Centre’s meeting rooms on Armagh Street offering impressive views of the historic statues, garden beds and Bowker Fountain in the Square.
But for now, just keep looking up.
I’m often asked about the new stadium and, although this is a complex subject, my answer is simple. Time is money.
We are grateful for the temporary stadium and what it once represented, but extending its life is a growing concern. Another is the escalating cost of delaying construction of a replacement home for Lancaster Park. The business case for a new stadium needs to consider affordability of the build and the affordability of operating it for 50 years.
Rugby is in our DNA; as a region we lead the world in producing world class players and teams, but that doesn’t mean we can demand a new stadium. We respect there have been higher priorities over the past seven years, but time is now the greatest risk. Rugby is just one of many tenants who could utilise a multi-purpose stadium; we support the decision to fast-track this project and hope to be offered a seat at the table when a final decision is made.
The debate appears to be focused on whether (or weather) we need a roof? We need to shift the conversation around the economic benefit to our city, but just as importantly the benefit to our people. In other words: Wellbeing Economics.
Wellbeing Economics is about acknowledging the significant role sport and recreation plays in the community, in the development of our values and character, and in defining who we are and how we live our lives.
The decision to build the Metro Sports Facility is a strong example of this, and just reward for all the sports codes in Canterbury.
Christchurch has always been an aspirational city, and I’m of the view that both facilities will inspire our kids to dream big.
For seven years, a generation of young Cantabrians has had to make do without important sporting facilities. These were meant to be provided by early 2016 in the Metro Sports Facility, a proposed world class sporting facility.
When this Government came to office, all this had come to was an empty lot. Beset by a $75 million budget blowout, the project was stalled with no realistic plan for completion. Likewise, there had been no real progress on plans or budgets for a stadium for the city to replace the one lost in the earthquake.
This wasn’t a scenario we were willing to let continue. Over the last few months the Crown has worked closely with Christchurch City Council, Sport Canterbury and the sporting codes themselves to get both facilities back on track.
Together, we have completed the detailed design of the Metro Sports Facility. Through a combination of changes to the procurement approach and final design, the estimated cost of the project was reduced by more than $50 million. This long-awaited facility is on track to open by the end of 2021.
Likewise, we’ve worked together to fast-track work on the stadium and work can begin on a detailed business case. The details will be subject to that business case, but we foresee a roofed stadium that will allow the city to host major rugby test matches and other significant sports and entertainment events.
Together we’ve been able to get real progress on projects that have been struggling and add a big boost of momentum to the recovery of our central city.
For the past two years I have been Branch Chair of the NZ Institute of Architects here in Canterbury, leading the committee through a number of programmes and events that have increased public awareness of the practice of architecture. Last week I stepped aside for a new Chair – Mike Callaghan – to lead further changes and improvements over the next two years.
It is vitally important that the work of architects is understood in all its complexity and richness, and not judged solely on the resulting buildings. And it is important that buildings are understood not just as objects we walk or drive past, but things we inhabit and experience in all sorts of ways. Buildings are ‘mini-worlds’ and we are the ‘life-form’ they support and interact with. So to encourage the public to engage with buildings they might not normally engage with is of vital importance for the profession.
Ways of doing this will be what drives The Festival of Architecture in September this year. Not only will there be open studios and city walks, but backstage passes opening the doors to the backrooms and service spaces of some of the buildings in the city. There will also be lectures and presentations showcasing future work coming up in the city, and also talks and discussions around the buildings we have and the buildings we’ve lost. And these discussions will be extended into the virtual arena, through on-line engagement with community groups and other professional bodies.
For the past 14 months, identifying and assessing potential land uses in the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor has been a significant part of Regenerate Christchurch’s work to develop a regeneration plan for the area.
The transformational opportunity it represents, as well as the local and national benefits, cannot be underestimated and it has been critical that we ensure our decision-making is informed, consistent and accountable.
While an independent community needs survey, carried out by Nielsen, identified a strong community interest in the corridor’s water quality, research findings on their own do not provide a comprehensive mechanism for testing all ideas.
Therefore, at Regenerate Christchurch, our assessment of potential land use combinations has included considering how these options might support safe, strong, healthy and connected communities, provide increased recreation and leisure activities, restore native habitat, create sustainable economic activity, attract visitors, provide opportunities to learn from the natural environment and address the challenges of climate change.
We have also assessed the potential land use combinations for their feasibility and how they might provide low and no-cost activities for all ages and abilities, and improve connections between central and east Christchurch.
The Red Zone Futures exhibition, which will run for five weeks from 26 May at 99 Cashel Mall – with parallel mobile and online exhibitions – will demonstrate the transformational opportunities within the river corridor. Opportunities that will deliver significant benefits for us here in Christchurch, as well as people around New Zealand and around the world.
Two years since the Health and Safety legislation changed, what have we achieved? In short, quite a lot! In 2012 the Government set a target of a 25 percent reduction in work related deaths and injuries by 2020.
According to Statistics NZ, deaths and serious non-fatal injuries are both below the target set by the Government already however, injuries that required more than a week off work are still well above the 2020 target, though also trending down.
Statistics are all well and good, but what do they really tell us? I think the real story is the change in culture across workplaces; businesses and individuals have moved away from a compliance focused approach, to a morally ‘it’s the right thing to do’ attitude.
There are undoubtedly areas that need to improve, but it is heartening to see an increase in individuals and organisations participating in health and safety training. We’re seeing individuals choosing to attend training, rather than being sent, with this increased willingness to participate from the shop floor up behind the movement.
WorkSafe commissioned a three-year survey (2014-2016) to analyse the balance in attitude and behaviours between workers and employers around health and safety. Interestingly, employers showed a more optimistic view of the state of health and safety within their organisation. One way to close this gap is to ensure employers talk to their people at the coalface. The enthusiasm for health and safety is there; it needs to be harnessed and supported if we are to continue to make our workplaces safer.
As we head in to the 8th year since the earthquakes, Canterbury has so much to be proud of. Hundreds of thousands of homes have been repaired, large swaths of our city have been rebuilt and some truly amazing new public spaces have been created. For most people, the trauma of the earthquakes has passed, their homes have been repaired or rebuilt and life has returned to a “new normal.” A recent wellbeing survey by the DHB shows that for most people, wellbeing levels have returned to what they were before the earthquakes.
For too many people though, this progress has been elusive – for the just over two and a half thousand people still waiting for their EQC claim to be settled, life cannot move on. What’s even more frustrating for people is that almost all of these outstanding repairs are remedial repairs – cases where work has already been done but has had to be re-repaired because of issues or faulty work.
Getting progress for these people is a key priority for me as Minister – we cannot be said to have truly recovered from the earthquake until every Cantabrian can move on with their lives and have hope in their future. That’s why I’ve appointed an independent Ministerial Advisor to work with EQC’s board and management on a plan to urgently resolve these outstanding claims and get progress for these people at last.
Seven years is too long to wait, it’s time these people were finally able to move on.
Men’s behaviour towards women is, quite rightly, under scrutiny. The message is clear. Men need to understand respect.
Having worked in schools for 35 years, I am convinced the key challenge we face is to help our young men grow emotional confidence.
Emotional confidence – and associated self-awareness and empathy – is a core strength for men and demands a subtle rethinking of our view of masculinity and its expression.
By growing emotional confidence in our boys, we can help them navigate the complexity of life in a more honest and constructive way, bringing out their best and the best in others.
In my experience at Christ’s College, I sense the boys themselves are ready for a different level of conversation about “being a man” in the 21st century – young men being confident in who they are.
As educators, our role is not simply about academic achievement. We need to support our young men to understand and develop character strengths, to live by virtues such as respect, honesty, loyalty, integrity, compassion and manners.
I believe we should challenge what it means to be a New Zealand male – and help our young men grow in the areas in which Kiwi men have not traditionally been so strong.
There are a lot of confusing messages about masculinity on the Internet and in social media. We need to make sure our young men have healthy and positive role models, so they are good men who respect women.
If you own, manage or occupy a building that’s a workplace, you should be up to speed with some regulations that will affect you. On Wednesday 4 April, 2018, important sections of the Health & Safety at Work (Asbestos) Regulations came in to force. There has been a two-year grace period to get organised and the deadline is now here.
What does this mean for you? In short, if you know (or ought to know!) that asbestos is likely to be present in your building, you need to be actively managing it. You should be well on your way to preparing an Asbestos Management Plan by now.
This important document outlines where asbestos is and how it will be managed. It must include information about the location, how you will manage associated risks, what procedures you’ll follow if you need to disturb it, how you record incidents and emergencies relating to it and a timetable for activities, such as regular reviews.
Anyone undertaking maintenance or repairs in your workplace should be asking for a copy of your Asbestos Management Plan, prior to commencing works, to ensure they don’t expose themselves or others to asbestos.
WorkSafe has produced some great guidance on the new requirements. Check out their website for more information. Ignorance will no longer be accepted as an excuse for not actively managing New Zealand’s number one workplace killer: asbestos exposure. Be proactive and don’t get caught out.
The success of the recent Lantern Festival has given Christchurch the first real taste of what a spectacular stage Te Papa Ōtākaro/Avon River Precinct can be for this city.
Thousands of people made their way along parts of the riverside promenade to find a vantage point on the steps of the Terraces or Worcester East punt stop. It was great to see this new space embraced in such a way.
It is easy to go past the remaining sections of the Avon River Precinct that are currently under construction and mistake them for roadworks. However, this project will see the riverside promenade stretch some two kilometres from the Hospital to the Margaret Mahy Family Playground when completed at the end of the year.
While the Avon River Precinct will bring more greenery to the central city and create an entirely new way to move across it, more importantly it is a catalyst for private development along the river.
Leading the charge of course, have been the hospitality ventures between Hereford and Cashel Street. We’ve also seen an impressive restoration of the former Café Roma building and the Public Trust building will follow suit. The Re:Start Mall site is also now making way for the start of works on the Riverside Farmers Market.
With Avon River Precinct works underway on the riverbanks between Victoria Square and the playground more opportunities will open up.
So, thanks to ChristchurchNZ and all those who attended the Lantern Festival for reminding us of the potential that lies along the river.
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