Since 2011, plenty has been said about the opportunity Christchurch has to redefine itself. But, as in most cities, conversations about vision can sometimes be overtaken by more vocal demands for immediate action and visible progress. As we near the end of 2018, a year in which there have been significant visible signs of progress, the focus must continue to shift from recovery to the longer-term, ongoing and more complex process of regeneration.
While individual agencies deliver value through their individual work programmes, it is the outcomes from the collective regeneration initiatives of the wider public and private sectors that generate the most value. Two examples this year have been the completion and opening of Tūranga, the new central library, and the EntX cinema complex. In just a few months’ time, the Christchurch Town Hall will re-open and, this time next year, the opening of Te Pae (the new convention centre) will be months away.
But it is also important to remember that regeneration is not about new buildings and facilities. Attracting more people to Christchurch as visitors and new residents must be one of the city’s core objectives. Unlike Auckland and Wellington, Christchurch has the capacity to grow without the space and infrastructure constraints the northern cities are currently grappling with.
However, it will not be a case of ‘build it and they will come’. Christchurch must demonstrate how it is uniquely placed to support the country’s growth and its relevance to New Zealand’s future success. That will be a task for all of us in 2019.