Following on from last week’s Zeitgeist post about the advances in the New Zealand tech industry, here are some reflections on another major theme affecting us for the last few years: how our home city of Christchurch continues to adapt to the life-changing events of 2011.
2014 was year 3 of living with the [less frequent!] aftershocks and aftereffects of the 2010-2011 earthquakes.
Having just returned from a trip around to the UK on the other side of the world, it hit home that Christchurch is a globally unique place to be living right now. Nowhere is there a bigger concentration of (nearly finished…?) demolition, construction, digging up roads, new businesses opening up and a plain dogged, determined energy to move forward. It has its ups and downs, and certainly it’s been a year of progress – if frustratingly slow at times.
We now live with a skyline dotted with cranes – a new one goes up every week!
Anchor projects including the Justice & Emergency Services Precinct, Retail Precinct, Canterbury Integrated Government Accommodation (CIGA), Bus Exchange, are all now being built and the
White Elephant Convention Centre concept drawings are out and construction could be due to start this year.
Not to be outdone, the private sector has generally kicked into gear with many new buildings being built during 2014. Unfortunately Anthony Gough’s The Terrace project is stalled – when will this get sorted? Notable private sector buildings are starting to shape the identity of our new city as well: Stranges Building , 151 Cambridge Terrace (lucky Deloitte!) and a few others up around Victoria Street.
If you haven’t already, you can use the CCDU Progress Map to check out all the new projects as they are announced and progressed.
Gotta say I’m a bit disappointed that the Eastern Frame isn’t going to be so green as originally envisioned – we’re losing an opportunity to provide a future long term asset for the city…
On the home front, after almost total radio silence there were a few developments relating to the Innovation Precinct towards the end of the year. Firstly great news that Memia’s home EPIC has had the lease extended from 5 years to 12 by the land owner Christchurch City Council – this now gives the EPIC board the opportunity to plan long term for embedding EPIC into the local innovation ecosystem.
Also nice to see building commitments from Vodafone, Kathmandu and – just before Christmas – Wynyard Group to set up home inside the Innovation Precinct. Also CDC’s new Innovation Hub is being built in the old Twisted Hop building, and will include next year’s Lightning Lab programme (as well as the new Dux De Lux!).
Message to the owners of “heritage” buildings in the neighbourhood: frankly it’s just depressing looking at the wreckage of your derelict bombsites outside our office every day. It’s just bricks and mortar, is it really worth spending millions (of whose money?!) on saving…? Either knock these old buildings down quickly or spend some money to hide them from sight please! We need an end to the moratorium on heritage buildings – a clear deadline date after which they either get funded or get cleared.
Other miscellaneous #Chch happenings that floated my boat last year included:
– As mentioned in my previous post Mark Sagar’s demonstration of BabyX to TEDxChristchurch was mind blowing. Bleeding edge AI happening right here in NZ. Kaila Colbin and the team are doing a great job curating TEDxChch for the 5th year running!
– Waltham Pool reopening just a few days ago after 4 years out of commission. Our Spreydon-Heathcote Ward Councillors Phil Clearwater and Tim Scandrett making good on their election manifesto promises. First-term politicians who deliver, nice.
– Speaking of the Council, it’s great to see Mayor Lianne Dalziel and 2IC Raf Manji start to think big about our city’s future. More like this please. Which leads me to…
– The establishment of the Committee for Canterbury – boy do we need a voice to start thinking long term past the earthquake recovery, this is it.
– The continuing [apparent] competence of our present government to keep New Zealand’s economic growth above the line. Whatever your politics and the many naysayers may think, the numbers don’t lie: John Key, Bill English and crew are sure footed business professionals who continue to steer the country towards better prosperity. Another 3 years please, but at the same time do something about the most extreme poverty that’s still there, AND invest some more in the conservation estate please….
– (And finally, hot off the press, just got back from seeing Delaney Davidson at…) LIVE at the Point in Diamond Harbour – amazing views, chilled sounds, great acts. 3 more Sunday afternoon gigs to go, get there on the ferry.
So this is an increasingly good place to live after the earthquakes hit in 2010-2011 – time will tell if this momentum can be maintained…
Next up: Memia Zeitgeist 2014-2015 #3: Three Major Tech Trends to watch