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Orange chairs & big hearts

There was a time when we were able to tell ourselves that homelessness happened everywhere else in the world but here. But that was yesterday.



Today, in 2019, there are 41,000 people experiencing homelessness in New Zealand. It’s a staggering statistic, but that tally is being challenged and dealt to on a daily basis with the help of an orange van equipped with showers, washing machines, six orange chairs and amazing people with big hearts – people like Eddie Uini of the New Zealand operation, Orange Sky.

A former social worker, Eddie previously helped South Auckland’s homeless wash their clothes by partnering with a laundromat in Manurewa. He managed to fundraise almost $50,000 personally for this project, before joining Orange Sky as their sole New Zealand employee and operator, committed to delivering “the best laundry service New Zealand has ever seen”.

The three-pronged service provides a safe place to access showers, a clean change of clothes and genuine conversations. “The first things out of our van are six orange chairs for people to sit and talk. Awesome friendships have been forged on those chairs,” Eddie says.

Orange Sky was founded in Australia in 2014 by two 20-year-old friends, Nic Marchesi and Lucas Patchett, who installed a couple of washing machines and dryers in the back of their old van and visited parks around Brisbane to wash and dry clothes for free; they saw it not only as a way to improve hygiene standards, but as a way to restore dignity to people doing it tough.



The rising number of homeless people in New Zealand prompted Australia to reach out to their friends across the Tasman and, in October 2018, the New Zealand branch of Orange Sky was launched in Auckland. With a team of 1,600 volunteers and a fleet of 28 vans containing mobile showers and laundry facilities, they help wash more than eight tonnes of laundry per week – for free. To date, they’ve now washed over 4,700 kilograms of washing, provided 1,686 showers, and had around 2,500 hours of non-judgemental conversation with the homeless of Auckland in 13 locations.

Eddie says a huge reality check for him was the day he found himself washing the clothes of a guy who was in his class at school. “Things can go badly wrong for people for any number of reasons. It made me realise you can’t take anything for granted.”

Wellington is next in the sights of Orange Sky, and Eddie recently met with our Christchurch City Mission and heard some heartbreaking statistics. He says that ideally, and depending on fund-raising efforts, he hopes to see Orange Sky operating in Christchurch soon. “Kiwis have big hearts and are known for their generosity and supporting their community. We would love for people to continue to support Orange Sky’s mission through simple things like sharing our stories, donating and, most importantly, participating in genuine and non-judgmental conversations with our friends on the street.”




Hot Business Property

Christchurch is embracing the burgeoning international trend of co-working, with savvy businesses snapping up shared spaces throughout the city.



Businesses both big and small are taking up the clever co-working concept, which can prove to be a more simple, cost-effective and flexible way of operating.


1. Evil Genius Bar & Lair
Unit B, 1091 Ferry Road, Ferrymead
Situated on the estuary, this coworking lair is said to inspire creativity, productivity and collaboration. There is no slouching with an outrageous selection of ergonomic office furniture, plenty of parking, endless wifi, free printing and scanning as well as wickedly cool breakout spaces.

2. Regus
6 Hazeldean Road, Addington and Awly Building, 287-293 Durham Street, Christchurch Central
Rent an office, desk space or meeting room for an hour, day, month or years, or establish a business presence with a virtual address – it’s all here to rent between these two innovative spaces.

3. Christchurch Community House
301 Tuam Street, Christchurch Central
So much more than just a shared space, Christchurch Community House Trust is a group of non-profit organisations committed to making a difference through modelling a strong, connected community, with ‘hot desking’ for community groups, and a range of tenancy options and bookable rooms.

4. C-Lab
270 St Asaph Street, Christchurch Central
C-lab is Christchurch’s co-working space for start-ups, freelancers and entrepreneurs. Here you’ll find desks and meeting rooms in the vibrant Boxed Quarter laneways. The roof-top balcony is an added bonus.

5. GreenHouse
146 Lichfield Street, Christchurch Central
An innovation hub for start-ups, scale-ups and small businesses with 40 desks, meeting rooms and an open event space for up to 100, offering tailored support, programmes and events.

6. Awesome HQ
192 St Asaph Street, Christchurch Central
Provided by the Ministry of Awesome, this co-working space is designed to support start-ups, freelancers, small businesses and individuals.

7. The Collect
Suite 1, Level 1, 185 Manchester Street, Christchurch Central
Offering desks and meeting rooms, its founders wanted to create a home for freelancers, start-ups and entrepreneurs to ‘create a diverse community where our workspace continually inspires us’. Not just any ordinary shared workspace, The Collect has been painstakingly curated to achieve an inspiring place to work and collaborate.

8. BizDojo
4 Ash Street, Christchurch Central
There are 150 desks, three meeting rooms and an open event space. Marketed as ‘more than just a desk’, insightful people and programmes are on hand to help businesses grow.

9. community101
111 Cashel Street, Christchurch Central
A free co-working space at BNZ in the CBD offering flexible hot-desks and meeting rooms, available for anyone during business hours.


Paragon Computers

Handing over the reins: Paragon Computers

“It was hard to let go of a business that I set up and nurtured over twenty-five years.”


Paragon Computers


Graeme Walcott speaks from the heart. He founded Paragon Computers in the mid-1990s and built it up from a one-man enterprise to become a trusted IT support company specialising in looking after the IT requirements of customers across a wide range of industries. Graeme has now decided it is time for him to retire and to leave the company’s future growth in the hands of his partner of ten years – Riki Browning.

Graeme will be filling his future days, not with internet systems, VoIP services and Cloud Migration, but also with family, golf, travelling and spending time at his holiday home on the West Coast.  “I began my own computing company at just the right time. It was when IBM PC compatible computers were becoming affordable and available to small businesses. I had completed a computer programming course while working in the UK – back in the days of huge mainframes and punch cards being fed into the machines. That was all to change dramatically with the introduction of the PC.”

At first, Graeme’s focus with Paragon Computers was on building home and business computer systems and selling PCs – the 286, the 386 and the 486 – very familiar numbers to people who developed their computers skills on those early Intel processors.  “Over the years we have supplied most Canterbury high schools with computers. At one stage we supplied an order for 140 PCs from Cashmere High School and Burnside High was another major client, but businesses are our main market.”

Competition soon became fierce in the PC market, with large appliance stores being able to supply cut cost computers. That challenged Graeme to expand and evolve the services offered by Paragon into IT support which is the emphasis of the company today.  “We now have a team of eight highly trained technicians who can provide a tailor-made solution that’s exactly right for a business. Our people have accounted for our success in still being around after twenty-five years and over that time we have fostered great working relationships with our customers. I am very proud of what we have achieved in such a challenging and competitive industry. Other companies that started out simply selling computers and then didn’t diversify have disappeared. We are still here.”

Riki Browning, now the sole owner of Paragon Computers, says the company is in good shape thanks very much to Graeme’s innovative approach and committed customer service. “We have some very loyal customers and I intend to both cement Graeme’s legacy and further develop the company. I am sure Graeme will always be interested in what we do. After all it was his baby in the beginning.”



School of Physiotherapy Clinics

Physio in City’s heart: School of Physiotherapy Clinics

The Garden City is scientifically expanding. The School of Physiotherapy Clinics Christchurch celebrated the opening of its brand new premises at 32 Oxford Terrace. In attendance were leading Otago professors, top performing students and passionate practitioners from the community who all gathered to celebrate the grand opening of Otago University’s latest expansion.


School of Physiotherapy Clinics


The clinic provides a wide range of physiotherapy services to the public. This brand new location will enlist advanced practitioners and senior students from the Otago University School of Physiotherapy working together to offer you cost-effective and professional treatment in the literal and figurative heart of the city.

Patients not only benefit from excellent facilities, exceptional value and free parking, but also help prepare a new generation of capable young clinicians for their future work in physiotherapy.  Sharon Kearney, NetballSmart Programme Manager and former physio to the Silver Ferns, says the main goal of physio is to improve performance and minimise injury, with injury prevention strategies designed to empower encourage coaches to use resources such as workshops to better understand the ‘why’.

“If they understand this and we work collectively, we are sure to see decreased injuries and an increase in performance over all sports,” Kearney says. The school itself offers a wide range of physio services. All clinic staff have postgraduate qualifications, extensive experience and work together to provide acupuncture, general physiotherapy, older persons’ health and rehabilitation.


For more information visit or phone the clinic 03 332 2627. Both private and ACC clients are welcomed.



A prime event

A prime event

The Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce held an exclusive luncheon with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern earlier this month.


A prime event


This was the third luncheon of its kind for The Chamber, with previous events fronted by Winston Peters and John Key. It was fitting the event was held the day before International Women’s Day. Jacinda captured the attention of around 660 members and non-members of The Chamber at the Air Force Museum in Wigram.

“What a crowd,” Jacinda said as she commenced her speech, commending Christchurch’s growth and spirit “in spite of the hurdles”.She praised our newest buildings, such as the central library and the “beautifully refurbished” Town Hall, said she was “jealous” of her partner Clarke Gayford enjoying the Shapeshifter performance last week and assured our awaited new stadium “will have a roof” to watch the Crusaders in comfort during winter.

She covered most poignant topics including export, and a fairer tax system, transitioning to a “clean green carbon-neutral New Zealand” and being ready for a global economic downturn. Wellbeing and mental health are top priority for the budget, noting the repercussions of both for the business world.

Chamber of Commerce CEO Leann Watson says she was pleased Jacinda confirmed her commitment to Christchurch is still a priority, including our anchor projects, and commitment to tourism and trade relationships.

The annual event was sponsored by the Christchurch Casino. CEO Brett Anderson says it was the best speech he had heard from her. “She didn’t avoid any issues and spoke what was on everyone’s minds.”



Bringing Rock to Towns

Bringing Rock to Towns

Imagine a world where everyone wears the same clothes, watches the same movies and thinks the same thoughts, where individuality is extinct and live music is banned under the control of an all-powerful global company and its tyrannical boss.


Bringing Rock to Towns
Killer Queen
(Naomi Ferguson)


In this futuristic comedy by Ben Elton, more than 24 of Queen’s biggest hits have been reimagined; wrapped into the story of an incredible dystopian world that is as unique as the music from which it was based. Successful West End shows like We Will Rock You (WWRY), complete national and international tours before the rights to stage them are given to community theatre companies. Showbiz Christchurch is the first to receive these for New Zealand, with the organisation then responsible for envisioning a whole new production.


Bringing Rock to Towns
Scaramouche (Jane Leonard) & Galileo (Caleb Jago-Ward)

It ensures what you see on a local level is special, with alterations made right down to minute detailing on the costumes and sets which were designed in the UK especially for WWRY.  The set, props and costumes came to Showbiz late last year from Queen Theatrical, the owners of the musical. The set was made by award-winning set builder Stufish Entertainment Architects, which is known internationally for creating the ‘Rolls Royce’ of sets, while the costumes were created by BAFTA and Olivier awards-winning costume designer Tim Goodchild.

Despite a prestigious career designing for stage, TV and film, including more than 60 West End productions, WWRY was a singular task. Goodchild joined the original London production team just six months before the May 2002 opening and turned his talented hand to creating more than 150 costumes – a task which can be likened to designing and making an entire couture collection.


Bringing Rock to Towns
(Aaron Boyce)

While he took to the mammoth task with his usual attention to detail, which includes extensive research, WWRY required something ‘next-level’. The creative endeavour included visiting photographic libraries and antique shops for old magazines to get inspiration for the costuming, which meant Adam Ant, Ziggy Stardust, Kiss, Boy George, Skyhooks, AC-DC all played a part.

The finished product is a recreation of the entire spectrum of rock. Not just the Queen period, Goodchild has captured Bay City Rollers and Vivienne Westwood and Boy George within the ornate and exceptional quality costuming. His costume ‘bibles’ – all bursting with sketches, notes, photos and material samples that chart the progress of the costumes from idea to stage – are now splayed across the tables in the Showbiz Christchurch wardrobe department, amid the fusion of tartan, torn tights and distressed denim.


Bringing Rock to Towns
(Catherine Hay)

There are several of these bibles and the Showbiz Christchurch team were blown away by the extensive and detailed notes that came with the costuming, that too was exceptional quality and detailed. Multiple sizes of key costumes – such as one of the 8kg Killer Queen costumes – have been created for the diverse range of performers to play the roles, during the musical’s global journey. Throughout the world, legions of devoted audiences have turned WWRY into a global success and, since 2002, more than 16 million theatregoers in 28 countries have rocked out to this unique musical.


Make sure you get your tickets so that like the Bohemians, you too can embark on the search to find the unlimited power and freedom of rock music! Book online at or 0800TICKETEK (0800 842 538).


Magic on Merrin

Magic on Merrin

For the last 15 years, Grant Price, Ruben Bunting and their small handpicked team of professional builders have been at the forefront of giving people the best quality home builds at the right price.


Magic on Merrin


With the Howard Barrington Group, there is no middleman or committee you have deal with. Grant and Ruben have 60 years’ experience between them and deal with you direct, taking you through every step of the build process from start to finish. To get an example of their skills and professionalism, you only need to look at 12 Merrin Street, Avonhead. With a neutral palette, a stylish floorplan, quality fixtures and fittings, your own décor will allow you to make it your own.


Magic on Merrin

The kitchen sports a generous helping of natural light thanks to the skylight; and large sliding doors open seamlessly to the outdoor patio, giving you that often-needed shelter and privacy. A fully tiled bathroom with underfloor heating, vanity, toilet and glass shower and a second separate toilet and basin will allow privacy for guests should the need arise.


Magic on Merrin


These units are also walking distance to two of Christchurch’s most sought-after schools, Burnside High and Merrin Street Primary. With one already snapped up, units 12 and 12a won’t last long. For more information contact Nicky Brownlee on 027 498 7181, or Tim Sprott on 027 435 9318 from Harcourts Grenadier. To contact Grant and Ruben about the home you have always wanted, phone 027 452 0163 or email

Lu Lu’s Bar and Eatery

Maori fusion hits Christchurch: Lu Lu’s Bar and Eatery

The popular food movement that combines delicious Māori kai with modern ingredients and cooking techniques has found a home in Christchurch with the opening of Lu Lu’s Bar and Eatery.


Lu Lu’s Bar and Eatery


Celebrating the best New Zealand has to offer, the philosophy of the restaurant encourages people to come together and connect over good, hearty, wholesome food. The delectable menu features fusion treats, such as, Pork’n’Watercress Croquettes, Rēwena Reuben Sandwiches, Hangi-style Kumara Bites, Cheesecake with Manuka Honeycomb, and Nan’s Steamed Pudding.

With Instagram-worthy presentation, the chefs include the finest details in every dish, with flourishing touches of Kawakawa syrup, watercress pesto, and toasted Rēwena Sourdough. Adopting a paddock-to-plate approach, the menu is divided into sections covering Te Pāmu (The Farm), Te Māra (The Garden), Te Kāinga (The Home), Te Moana (The Sea), and a full menu for the Tamariki.

Conveniently located at 31 Victoria St, Lu Lu’s Bar and Eatery is quickly becoming a hot spot for tourists wanting to experience Kiwi food with a twist, as well as a relaxing place for locals to enjoy an evening out. It is also a popular hub for sports fans, with screens offering coverage of the English Premier League, and all major European football matches. The space can also be hired for private events, parties and special occasions.



Visit to check out the exciting menu, and discover how the team at Lu Lu’s can help make your next evening or event, a night to remember.


Sir Bob Parker

The journey of an icon: Q&A with Sir Bob Parker

The Christchurch Town Hall rebuild has been a journey of epic proportions and Sir Bob Parker has been there from the beginning. We caught up him about their shared journey together.


 Sir Bob Parker


The Town Hall has recently reopened after being severely damaged in the February 2011 earthquake. You were the Mayor at the time and started the steps to save the historical building. Why was there so much, not only council effort, but community effort to refurbish this structure?

From the time it opened in 1972, with the design by Sir Miles Warren and Maurice Mahoney, the community has felt a sense of pride and accomplishment. It was and is again today a beautiful location to enjoy a performance of any kind. Just about everyone around Canterbury and beyond have a memory around a time they have attended or visited the Town Hall.

From the beginning this hall was a building for the people and it has been referred to as the ‘cathedral for the people’. The designers, Sir Miles Warren and Maurice Mahoney, developed a showcase piece of architecture, which provides a thread for our community.


You mentioned you have a long personal history with this building, how so?

I remember the time when the Town Hall was only an idea; a sketch. I was a teenager and my parents were behind the community fundraising efforts to build the hall. People could buy bricks and that money was donated to the build fund. It was the community who fundraised the beautiful Reiger organ which graces the hall.


The Town Hall has gained an international reputation, why do you think that is?

Yes, it has. It has become referred to as one of the top five auditoriums in the world for its acoustics which were created by Sir Harold Marshall, who has become known around the world for designing auditoriums with the best results. Artists who perform there rave about the acoustics.

With the halls reopening, we are so pleased that the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra will now have a place to call home where they can practice and perform.

A quick story is that I was passing through Christchurch Airport and a gentleman introduced himself. It was Harold Marshall. He was on his way to Paris to discuss the acoustics for a new building they were designing and that was because of the reviews of the acoustics in the Town Hall.


Was it always the plan to save the Town Hall?

During my time as Mayor, my councillors and I approved the steps to save the hall. When I left office, as with any council transition, others had different ideas and goals. The Town Hall was re-evaluated and questioned whether to save it or not. Thankfully the new council recognised that we’d made the correct decision, changed their minds, reaffirmed our call, and the refurbish journey began. It was a collective effort of so many and I personally am so appreciative of the outcome. The Town Hall is a Christchurch icon.



Leeann Watson

The Influencers: Leeann Watson

The changing demographic of our city is something to celebrate, as we see greater diversity through the number of migrants living and working in Christchurch.


Leeann Watson
Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive


We currently have a population of over 316,000 people, projected to grow to over 341,200 in 20 years. As Christchurch becomes an increasingly attractive place to live and work and becomes more widely known as a city of opportunity, we anticipate that more and more people will choose to live and work in Christchurch.

Our new overseas arrivals come from many different countries, including the UK and Ireland, and more recently the Philippines, China and India. With our city’s focus evolving from rebuild to rejuvenation, it will be essential that we continue to attract the right skills to enable us to grow our economy.

This is exciting news for our city, with greater diversity flowing through to our businesses, schools and communities. When you have a diverse group of people, you’re drawing on a broad range of backgrounds, experiences and perspectives, all of which add value to our city and region.

For businesses, greater diversity encourages more dynamic and creative thinking, better customer understanding, richer brainstorming and overall more balanced decision-making. Global research also shows that companies in the top quartile for diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians – showing that diversity is great for the bottom line too.

With our city’s changing demographics, Christchurch is becoming a much more inclusive, diverse community, which is a positive change for the future.