It was an interesting time in lockdown within my bubble of two living as we do in the heart of our city!
We have explored the parts of the central city we don’t usually get to see.
The juxtaposition of the old and the new that tells part of our story; the history before the European settlers arrived now embedded in our landscape, with the legends that complete our story; the street art, largely hidden behind rows of parked cars, has been in full view.
And, of course, Hagley Park has been our place of solace and beauty as it always has been no matter what happens in our lives.
I missed the Botanic Gardens while they were closed, but now they too are open again with their autumn splendour on full display.
And, for the first time in a long time, I can see how “time poor” we had become as a couple.
Although the days have been crazy, with Zoom and Skype dictating a new pattern of working, I’m reminded that being in the presence of someone isn’t the same as being present with someone – switching off from the pressures of the day and having deep conversations with meaning and purpose, and enjoying our wonderful city together – that’s what really matters.
I remember the Commonwealth Games in 1974. I was a young teenager and the city was abuzz with excitement. I can still remember the song:
We’ve got to join together,
let our laughter fill the air
It’s time for every race and creed
to throw away their every care
Let sport unite us all as one
in the spirit of the lord above
And let us all remember
The games are for the fostering of
peace and love
Never would I have imagined 45 years later that the spirit of these words would be invoked in response to an atrocity such as we experienced on 15 March last year.
Although we will never forget the 51 people whose lives were taken, our memory of that time will always include the way we ‘joined together’.
We stood side-by-side regardless of ‘race or creed’. We were ‘united as one’, and the ‘fostering of peace and love’ was made real.
This act, which was inspired by hatred and was designed to divide us and tear us apart, instead united us with all our communities and embraced us in compassion and love.
The words of our Prime Minister and that of our local Muslim community leaders, who spoke of peace, love, compassion, unity and forgiveness, helped us through this time.
In a time of crisis, this is what the world needs to see and hear, and that’s what makes Christchurch such a special place.
I love the fact it’s 2020! When applied to eyesight, 20/20 refers to clarity of vision and that is what I am sure the year 2020 will deliver to our city and region. I am hugely optimistic for what this year holds.
Not only will we continue to see the benefits of private and public investment in our city, we will see major projects fully completed and others underway.
Christchurch’s Convention Centre, Te Pae, will open in 2020 and what a difference that will make for the region as a whole.
When I think of the conferences we will be hosting, I don’t just think about the delegates attending, I think of the extra days that they pack in on either side of the conference, the family they might bring along for the ride, or bring back after the conference when they’ve had a taste of what the region has to offer.
And what about the American Airlines announcement that will connect North America and our region with Los Angeles to Christchurch direct flights three days a week?
I am so grateful we have such an active airport company that continues to invest in building international connectivity.
We will see the Metro Sports Facility starting to rise from the ground this year, and this will bring huge benefits, especially to the accommodation sector, due to the national events that will be held there.
The signs of visible progress we will see this year will really help to restore confidence in what is the heart and soul of our city.
What a wonderful few weeks it has been in Christchurch. We’ve hosted royalty and we’ve revelled in the Canterbury Anniversary events that bring the region together each year. In my mind, there is no better place to be in the spring than Christchurch.
It was an honour to welcome the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall to Christchurch. I was delighted to host them on a walkabout in Cathedral Square where many people turned out to greet them.
During their visit to Christchurch they got to see Tūranga and the Riverside Market – two attractions which have breathed new life into our central city and helped make it vibrant place where people want to be.
The vibrancy of Christchurch was also on show at the New Zealand Cup meetings at Addington and Riccarton raceways and at the New Zealand Agricultural Show.
I was thrilled to be able to present the winner’s trophy at Addington to the connections of Cruz Bromac. But the real highlight for me was standing alongside Terrill Charles and Peter Corbett, whose horse Dee And Gee won the Christchurch Casino New Zealand Cup at Riccarton. I had the honour of presenting them with the Trainer’s trophy.
Four years ago, Terrill was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer and given just four and a half months to live. Through sheer determination, support from Peter, and her passion for their horses, she has battled on and defied the odds.
Their story was an inspirational note to end Cup and Show Week festivities on.