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The Influencers: Joanna Norris


ChristchurchNZ Chief Executive

Having the right skills to supply the future job market is crucial in repositioning Ōtautahi Christchurch for social and economic prosperity.
Unemployment in the city was 4.2 percent, similar to the national average of 4.4 percent (as at the end of March 2020). Since the lockdown, the number of Jobseeker Support Recipients, an early indicator of unemployment levels, in Canterbury has increased by 35 percent compared to 31 percent growth nationally. We expect this rate to rise when the support of the central government wage subsidy is removed.
The impact of Covid-19 will be much clearer at the end of the June quarter. But in real terms, this means between 12,500 and 20,000 people will be unemployed in Christchurch over the next 12 months. That is why we are acting now to support people into new jobs and build a talent pipeline for the sectors that have job opportunities.
One of the first initiatives is a city-wide career and study expo on 6 August, at Vodafone Innova8, Tuam Street. Industry and tertiary partners will be delivering workshops and highlighting the types of employment and training opportunities that will be in-demand and advising on how people unemployed or looking to re-train to a future-focused sector can get involved.
This is an important first step in a programme of work that will address our current and future employment needs, with the ultimate goal of positioning Ōtautahi Christchurch with the right skills and employment opportunities to future-proof our economy and meet changing global demands.

The Influencers: John Bridgman


John Bridgman
Ōtākaro Limited Chief Executive

So much of central Christchurch has a shiny new face, meaning opportunities to rejuvenate buildings with historic charm are now relatively rare. But on 13 August we’ll be taking to auction the illustrious Odeon Theatre and neighbouring Lawrie and Wilson building in a heritage offering like no other.
The Odeon’s white stone street frontage, entry and stairs carry a Category 1 listing. It was designed in 1883 by Thomas Stoddart Lambert as a public theatre and hall, and later transformed to a vaudeville venue, cinema and church. It has hosted the likes of Sir Laurence Olivier and the Old Vic company as well as a public meeting with Kate Sheppard for the women’s suffrage movement. The Lawrie and Wilson building dates back to 1911 and was built as auction premises.
It’s no secret that heritage projects are hard work, so this is a proposition for those who want to give something back to Christchurch by reinvigorating the hidden treasure that is the Odeon. Also included in the offering is the large parcel of vacant land adjoining the two heritage buildings, fronting onto the high-profile intersection of Tuam and Manchester Streets.
Some fantastic restoration work has already been carried out around the city but we know a lot of the local developers who like heritage projects have their hands full at the moment, so this is a great opportunity for other parties to potentially take centre stage.

 


 

The Influencers: Lianne Dalziel


Christchurch Mayor

It has been great to see people coming back into the building to work. I won’t pretend that I haven’t enjoyed some of the features of working from home. I seemed to get a lot more done. But the truth is I’m pretty much Zoomed out. What I missed the most were those people to people interactions – not just the contact that social distancing denied us, but the sharing of ideas, joining in conversations, putting two and two together as connections were made – that’s where innovation starts.
I think innovative enterprises – and yes our public services should be those too – should be encouraging people back to their offices and encouraging people to support those businesses who are doing it hard. Let’s all who can do so, help them get back on their feet.
Now here’s a reason for everyone to come to town in July. CHCH IS LIT, a month long festival of light, runs until 29 July from 6pm until 11pm daily to help fill the gap until Botanic D’Lights Tirama returns.
More than 20 installations, from lighting up trees to full-on projections on buildings, have been created and built by Christchurch companies and artists, with locations including Victoria Square, Friendship Corner (the grass area opposite Riverside Market), Park of Remembrance (on the Avon River opposite The Terraces), Cathedral Square, City Mall and New Brighton Pier. These will all be filmed as well, so people can see them online.
It will be great to see the city come alive with light and people.


 

The Influencers: Marian Johnson


Ministry of Awesome Chief Awesome Officer

Throughout June, the MoA team has been focusing on the launch of Christchurch’s first national healthtech initiative – the HealthTech Supernode Challenge, which went live on 29 June. This is our signal to New Zealand that Ōtautahi Christchurch aims to become the home of NZ healthtech innovation.
With a total prize pool across multiple categories valued at over $340,000, there are plenty of reasons to enter the challenge. There’s entry into a virtual pre-accelerator programme where we will help grow the ventures, the potential for investment, a CDHB validation contract, an exclusive opportunity to develop the venture alongside Ryman Healthcare’s team, and an invitation to a further startup incubator programme.
Most readers will not know that Christchurch is home to one of the most prolific healthtech innovation communities in New Zealand. I’ve written here before about the Christchurch ‘supernode’ strategy. HealthTech is one of those supernodes given our existing strength in this area and the opportunity it represents for creating high value jobs in our city’s future.
The aim of the Challenge is to identify and generate viable solutions to healthcare problems. We’re focused on Aged and Rural Care sectors but there’s also an Open category to ensure no innovation is left uncovered.
The nationwide challenge, sponsored by ChristchurchNZ, is open to anyone with a healthtech innovation or idea – from students and startups to researchers, and healthcare professionals. If this sounds like you or someone you know, please spread the word. Applications close on 16 August.

 


 

The Influencers: Paul Lonsdale


Mainstreet Management Ltd Managing Director

While I enjoyed the break over the lockdown period, I have to admit, it was great getting back into the real-life working routine again. Like many, I grew tired of the Zoom this and Skype that. I went back to work the moment the restrictions allowed me to do so and over the last six weeks I visited many of the city businesses to gauge the city’s financial temperature.
There seems to be a warm glow coming from many businesses and I think this is, in part, our people yearning for a real life experience rather than the overused virtual experience.
However, we are now in the midst of our winter and generally people go into hibernation the moment that cold snap bites in. At some point over the last 30 years many of us have forgotten how to put a coat on; we go from air-conditioned homes, to air-conditioned cars, to air-conditioned work places. But we need you to find that coat and continue supporting your local businesses over the next couple of months to keep that warm glow momentum going.
It is looking likely that Australian bubble will not happen this year. However, I am grateful we have wonderful local neighbours; the Greater Canterbury region, Southland, Otago, Marlborough and the West Coast.
‘Supporting your local’ is one of the elements to our economy’s recovery and I know your local business would love to see you in person, because nothing beats the real thing.

 

 


 

The Influencers: Marian Johnson

 


 

Ministry of Awesome Chief Awesome Officer

I recently took part in a discussion with NZ innovation community leaders where everyone shared their thoughts on what made New Zealand a uniquely innovative country poised to thrive and lead in a post-COVID world.

I came to New Zealand 12 years ago having married a young Kiwi on his OE in London.

Like so many Kiwis, as soon as it was time for family, Mr. J was ready to come home.

When I first got here, I knew that NZ was beautiful but I had no idea at all that it was a political and social innovator.

Establishing the women’s right to vote, an eight-hour work day and state-funded pensions are all early symbols of this progressive nature.

Another superpower is our size. If NYC and London have six-degrees of separation, New Zealand has one.

The ease of collaborating and doing business here allows us to work nimbly and adaptively. This is a huge advantage.

In terms of values, Kiwis seem to prize equality above all social values.

Our startups aren’t aiming to be the newest Silicon Valley either.

I believe that our equality edge will guide our startups to create innovation that is good for the world not just good for shareholders.

And there’s no better time than the present when our geographical isolation – in a world of Zoom calls and online investment pitches – is almost negligible.

NZ based high growth startups and innovators, your time is now.


 

The Influencers: John Bridgman


 

Ōtākaro Limited Chief Executive

Between Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre and the Metro Sports Facility alone, Ōtākaro has been pumping around $15m a month into the construction sector, on behalf of the Government.

Pre-lockdown, around 600 people were active across both sites and we’re continually working to get back to that level, while maintaining safe working distances.

When you consider these numbers and how that money then flows onto the suppliers of parts and materials, that’s a lot of people receiving a pay packet each week because of these infrastructure projects.

They put Canterbury in a strong position when it comes to economic recovery, as these projects aren’t just ‘shovel ready’, they’re out of the ground.

Construction work will now be carrying on at Te Pae Christchurch into the new year and work at the Metro Sports Facility is back near full capacity.

Alongside these projects, work on the South Frame is back underway and the North Frame pedestrian bridge construction is ramping up.

Our friends at Fletcher Living will also have work going on at One Central for several years. These projects all put money directly into the hands that swing the hammers.

It’s a skilled workforce supported by a wide range of design, legal and finance professionals, that can look forward to being busy for a long time in this region with the likes of the Canterbury Arena and Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor on the horizon.

There may also be other local projects the Government opts to support to help our economy bounce back from COVID-19.


 

The Influencers: Leeann Watson


 

Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive

In the last few months, we have seen unprecedented change, with health, social and economic impacts on a scale that no-one could have predicted.

But make no mistake, businesses in Waitaha Canterbury are innovative, resilient and adept to responding to disruption.

Over the last few decades, we have demonstrated our determination, agility and ability to respond quickly to a changing business environment and are again showing our mettle by pivoting on our product and service offering to adapt to this ‘new normal’.

One local high-end fashion designer is making face masks; a furniture restorer is producing hand sanitiser; an IT company now specialises in setting up ‘click and collect’ services; an events company has taken a step-change to provide deliveries.

We are conscious that the impact of COVID-19 may simply be too much for some businesses who have already exhausted any reserves they had in re-establishing themselves post-earthquakes, however I believe Canterbury is best placed with the structures and processes in place to ride out these challenging times.

At The Chamber we are doing everything we can to support local businesses – and those throughout the South Island through our 0800 50 50 96 COVID-19 business helpline – and are actively engaging with central and local government to advocate for further support.

It is hard to predict what our future will look like.

What we do know is that while the changes we are seeing across our whole community and economy are unprecedented, we have come through adversity before and we will do so again. Kia kaha.


 

The Influencers: Marian Johnson


 

Ministry of Awesome Chief Awesome Officer

What a weird month April 2020 was. By the time you read this, we are hopefully emerged from our respective bubbles.

It’s hard to think of any event as universal as this experience and there won’t be a single Kiwi amongst us who hasn’t been affected in one way or another.

Yes – economic predictions are for stormy weather ahead but there are also some incredible opportunities peeking out from behind those clouds.

Firstly, anyone at any organisation that has managed to successfully work through April now knows that remote working is entirely possible and, for many, might even be more desirable.

Think of how that realisation – once the penny has fully dropped – could redefine our workforce, our property market, our reliance on fossil fuel, our energy consumption and more.

Secondly, think of how technology and innovation enabled us.

Telehealth, tracer apps, Zoom, instant messaging, video workouts, Google Drive, Microsoft Teams.

Technology and innovation will also enable our recovery.

Tech is now New Zealand’s second largest export and this is only poised to grow with a renewed appetite for innovation across every sector.

Lastly, think of the impact April’s personal musings will have on our desire to change up our lives.

Many will not return to the status quo either because it no longer exists or because the status quo no longer feels like the right fit.

Whether it’s a career change, pursuing your dream startup, or renouncing rampant consumerism, change can be good for any and all of us.


 

The Influencers: Lianne Dalziel


 

Christchurch Mayor

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.