As this is my first Metropol column for 2020, I would like to wish you a happy – and prosperous – New Year. It’s already shaping up to be an exciting year ahead.
Two key milestones will be the opening of Te Pae Convention Center in October and the completion of the Lyttelton Cruise Berth Terminal – both of which will help drive increases to our tourism market.
In May, Ōtautahi will host TRENZ 2020, our country’s biggest business-to-business travel and trade event, attracting 300 international travel sellers.
We will also be ramping up to host the 2021 ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup final, with benefits including a global audience of 180 million, $3 million spending boost and 15,000 extra bed nights.
At a political level, locally we will see our new council hit its stride with a new Chief Executive at the helm, as well as a strong focus on transparency following last year’s review.
Nationally, political activity will ramp up in the lead up to the September General Election – the $12 million infrastructure investment is a prime example.
I expect further announcements to be around increases in welfare and health spending, and some tax or effective tax relief.
Globally, we can expect to see continued economic volatility including the US (particularly given the November presidential election), the tension in Iran, the outcomes of Brexit and the impact of the global coronavirus outbreak – all significant for international trade and our economy.
That’s all adding up to a year of change and challenges – but also opportunities – for our city.
As the year draws to a close, I’d like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the agencies and organisations that have contributed to greater Christchurch’s regeneration during 2019.
If you are a regular reader, you will know of my ongoing admiration and acknowledgement of the private sector’s significant role in Christchurch’s regeneration. You will also know of my advocacy for a cohesive public sector working in partnership with investors, developers, business owners and others.
The Greater Christchurch Regeneration Act 2016 specifies five strategic partners – Christchurch City Council, Environment Canterbury, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Selwyn District Council and Waimakariri District Council. We also work closely with the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC), ChristchurchNZ and Development Christchurch Ltd (DCL).
Our relationships with these two local public sector agencies have been enhanced further this year by co-locating to enhance our collective performance and create a platform for Christchurch’s future development, beyond the limited lifespan of Regenerate Christchurch and the legislation we operate under.
This ensures the knowledge we have developed is preserved for future use and supports transferring regeneration leadership responsibilities to permanent, locally based agencies.
This transition will build on the progress made so far and ensure Christchurch is well-placed to make the most of future regeneration opportunities.
As we approach the official start of summer, on behalf of the Regenerate Christchurch team, have a safe and happy Christmas and New Year, and all the very best for 2020.
One of the best parts of my job is getting to meet talented entrepreneurs and helping them succeed. And that’s exactly what the whole team got to do last week at the Pressure Cooker final of FoodStarter 2019 – a national competition looking for the most innovative food and beverage startups in New Zealand.
There were five talented startups who made the cut on Wednesday night from a total of 121 entries from all over New Zealand. The judging panel got to taste some seriously delicious vegan Kiwi Dip, the creamiest sheep’s milk yoghurt, flavourful vegan pastrami, dainty pre-biotic pudding, and the most amazing vegan sausage we have ever had the good fortune to experience. And – you guessed it – the winner was Ananda Simply Wholefoods with their spicy vegan sausage that was simply outstanding.
Locally sourced, plant-based, dairy and gluten free was definitely the theme of this year’s competition, nicely summed up by one of the competitors, Paul Seymour, whose presentation began with the statement ‘Veganism is the greatest social revolution in the history of the world!”
Ananda now goes on to win the $75,000 FoodStarter business incubation package whose main prize is the holy grail for most food startups – full distribution of their product across the Foodstuffs South Island retail network, courtesy of New World. They’ll also get a full brand review from Strategy Advertising, everything they need to scale to retail production from FoodSouth, and business mentorship and commercialisation how-to from our team at Ministry of Awesome.
For a city recovering from a major disaster like the Canterbury earthquakes, all the evidence suggests that simply rebuilding buildings and restarting businesses is not the end of the recovery journey.
The lasting impact of the trauma of the disaster and the long, grinding recovery that follows can have lasting mental health impacts on our people. And this is especially true for our young people.
I’ve spoken to many parents and teachers who tell me of the real mental health impacts the quakes and their aftermath have had on young people in Christchurch, from anxiety to depression to developmental delays.
That’s why I’m so proud of the Government’s Mana Ake programme, which gives every child in Canterbury access to a trained mental health worker through their schools. This policy was actually a personal mission of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and the Government worked closely with the CDHB and their mental health experts in designing its details.
So far, 2030 students have received help individually and a further 2070 students have received help in a group. That’s thousands of young people getting the mental health support they need. I’ve personally met with some of these young people and their families and heard them talk about what a huge difference having access to counselling, and being able to learn coping skills, has made in their lives. One mother told me of the total transformation in her son and how it has helped their whole family.
The success of this programme shows what we can achieve when we take mental health seriously.
Not only is our Te Papa Ōtākaro Avon River Precinct project the largest urban transformation ever undertaken in New Zealand, but now it has also been deemed this year’s best, winning the prestigious George Malcolm Award for supreme excellence at the 2019 New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architecture Awards.
The Avon River Precinct includes the City Promenade, the Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial, The Terraces, the Victoria Square and Bridge of Remembrance restorations, all the artworks and plantings along the river and the Margaret Mahy Family Playground. We’ll have the remaining elements completed next year.
The judges noted, “Te Papa Ōtākaro has emerged as a significant and transformative urban landscape, maximising the opportunity provided by the earthquakes, to develop an exemplary interweaving of urban edge and river. Enhancing the cultural landscape of the city, as well as the ecological and social values, has provided Christchurch with a central core that holds the city together, and re-presents it with a new vision.”
The real beauty of the Avon River Precinct, which was also named as one of three finalists for Most Improved River at the 2019 New Zealand River Awards, is that it will only get better with time, as the plants and gardens mature, as more people take the time to walk and enjoy the City Promenade and as more private developments and public projects, like Te Pae, start opening out onto it.
Congratulations to our partners on this project: Christchurch City Council, Matapopore Charitable Trust, and the outstanding design teams at LandLAB, Boffa Miskell, WSP-Opus, and Rough & Milne.
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.
As this is my last Metropol column of the year, I wanted to take the opportunity to highlight an initiative that is very close to my heart.
In my role at The Chamber, I have seen first-hand the great work and outcomes that our many charities provide to those in need in our city.
This year I am pleased to lend my voice to the Bayleys Plate Up for a Purpose campaign, which challenges local chief executives to raise $5000 each, culminating in a memorable evening of fun and food at the Town Hall on 29 February. At this event we will join forces with top Canterbury chefs to cater a three-course dinner for 180 people!
The funds raised will go towards the Christchurch City Mission’s Back to School programme, which pays $300,000 a year towards the school costs of children from families who struggle with the significant financial outlay at the start of the school year. This gives these kids the resources they need to start the new year and – most importantly – the confidence to fit in with their peers and stay in school, helping to give every child in Canterbury the chance to get the education they need to succeed.
The Christchurch City Mission is not alone – there are so many amazing organisations in our community that need our help. As we head into the holiday break, I would encourage all of you to do something (regardless of how small) to help create a positive impact in our community.
The opening of the Riverside Market on the corner of Lichfield Street and Oxford Terrace is yet another milestone in the regeneration of our city.
The enclosed, seven-days-a-week market is another reason for residents to spend time in the central city, and also provides exposure for local producers to the thousands of tourists who will come here with the Riverside Market in their itineraries.
The commitment of those behind this development is to be applauded, as is the commitment of other private developers and investors in our city. Their confidence in Ōtautahi Christchurch is something for us all to be heartened and inspired by, particularly in an environment where regeneration challenges remain.
Regenerate Christchurch is committed to working in partnership with other public sector agencies and the private sector to ensure the considerable progress that has been made to date is maximised and new opportunities investigated.
Most recently we have been working with the Canterbury Cricket Trust to develop a proposal to use Section 71 of the Greater Christchurch Regeneration Act to amend the Christchurch District Plan to permit changes to the use and operation of Hagley Oval.
We must also remember to celebrate the visible progress that has been made and continues to be made, and I encourage you to make the most of what is on offer at the Riverside Market and in the broader central city area.
Many of us have spent much of the past few weeks staring at rugby fields as the World Cup rolls on.
Put two of these fields side by side and you’ve got an area similar to that covered by the Metro Sports Facility, which we currently have under construction.
We’re now into the thick of the foundation concrete pours on the site that will support the nine indoor courts and the competition, diving and leisure pools.
In total, the project will require around 16,000m3 of concrete and 3700 tonnes of structural steel to build. That’s only slightly less than our other major project, Te Pae, which everyone can clearly see is a substantial central city building.
Once all the foundations are poured for the Metro Sports Facility, people travelling along Moorhouse Avenue and St Asaph Street will start seeing the structural steel going up early next year.
We know that thousands of people will visit, and dozens of events will be held at the Metro Sports Facility each year once the doors are open, providing an economic boost for the city. But it’s worth remembering the build itself is also doing that, with over 300 people expected to be working on the site at the height of construction.
That’s a big team, doing an important job, but I appreciate it’s not the main sporting fixture we’re all focused on at the moment.
I believe a better future is when we can look at Christchurch and see a place that we are proud to call home as New Zealand’s second largest city. We can see that it offers the next generation the opportunity to live, work and raise a family here.
However, often we do not act like a city and more like a large town that questions the relevance of a stadium. For us to grow and fulfill our aspirations, we need to change our mindset and act like a city that is progressive, offering opportunity and platforms for our young people to aspire to perform.
We have the best opportunity of all New Zealand cities to grow, and grow at scale, but we need to ensure growth is at a sustainable rate and accessible for future generations to enjoy. We have the available land, and we could absorb significant increases to our current population. But to achieve growth, we ourselves have to be positive advocators of our city. We need to lift our aspirations and restore pride back to this great city of ours and if you look around, we have a lot to be proud of.
We have been blessed with local investors who have reinvested into the future of our city. They could have moved and invested outside of Christchurch but they chose to stay and invest here. So as residents and investors in Christchurch, let’s become positive advocators and build a better future.