The latest News Update from Avon-Ōtākaro Network...
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Avon-Ōtākaro Network (AvON) wants to turn the Avon-Ōtākaro Residential Red Zone (RRZ) and River into both an eco-reserve with restored native habitat, biodiversity, water quality and mahinga kai, and a city-to-sea river park that meets a diverse range of community needs for recreation, sport, cultural heritage, food production, arts and entertainment, education, training, employment, business and tourism.
Upcoming Events:
- for more info about these events check out our Facebook page -
 30 January   Whaka Inanga Straw Bale Set Up - volunteer day with EOS Ecology and UC
 31 January   MKE Naturewatch Survey Workshop & World Wetlands Day BBQ and Walk at Travis
 February   Bloom Festival @ Canterbury Museum - part of the 5th anniversary commemoration
 22 February   River of Flowers - part of the 5th anniversary commemoration with Healthy Christchurch
 7 May  Mother Earth Waterways Clean Up with Avon-Heathcote Estuary Ihutai Trust,
Ōpāwaho-Heathcote Network, CityCare Ltd and Student Volunteer Army
 29/30 July   Mahinga Kai Exemplar Planting Days with Sustainable Coastlines and Million Metres
 24 September   The Great Avon-
Ōtākaro River Walk with River of Life

Our two main areas of focus in 2015...

... were to continue our advocacy and to implement whatever we could on the ground to exemplify both the what and how of our vision for the Avon-Ōtākaro RRZ.

Hence we spent much of the year supporting Eastern Vision in the production of the Eyes East TV series on the recovery of the eastern flatland suburbs and in progressing the Mahinga Kai Exemplar Project at Anzac Drive Reserve.

Eyes East was a collaboration of three parties – Eastern Vision, CTV and Rebuild Christchurch to inform and engage communities about ideas for the recovery of the east Christchurch flat land suburbs - including many ideas that fall within the AvON vision for the Avon-Ōtākaro RRZ. 

It comprised seven 30-minute episodes covering the impacts of the earthquakes on communities, community values and guiding principles for the recovery of the east, and a look at many of the the most popular proposals for the regeneration of the east and how they might all fit together into the big picture.

The series was broadcast on CTV and published on-line as a series of 21 short clips.  These video clips will remain on the Rebuild Christchurch website as a permanent resource and archive.   To view these, click here.

In addition the EVO::SPACE website was reactivated and reconfigured to follow the Eyes East format, to enable people to continue to input their feedback on the proposals - this site also remains active.  So if you have not yet provided or updated your feedback - you still can do so here.

DVDs of the series are being made to be given away free to local schools as a teaching resource.

AvON has also been successful in using the series to leverage a number of media articles and interviews directly related to the AvON vision with regard to both future use of the RRZ lands and the current health of the river east of Fitzgerald Ave.

The Mahinga Kai Exemplar (MKE) Project at Anzac Drive Reserve is the only on-the-ground project that AvON is directly involved in implementing.

To this end we have contracted: an MKE Project Manager, Kathryn Bates; a volunteer Takatatiaki (caretaker); Teoti Jardine; a Biodiversity Baseline Survey by Shane Orchard, a UC PhD research student; and a Learning Environments Outside the Classroom LEOTC) Coordinator, Sian Carvell,  to work with local schools.  Sian has also been contracted direct by Ngāi Tahu to create educational resources unique to the MKE site.

In addition we continue to work with UC Geography graduate students and Engineers without Borders on research projects particularly relating to the MKE waterway systems.

This project is a collaboration of a number of key partners including Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and Ngāi Tūāhuriri Rūnanga, CCC, DOC and ECan.

Over the course of the past 18 months we have planted almost 4000 seedlings worth more than $11k in six planting events involving community and corporate volunteers, local schools, Limited Service Volunteers, Conservation NZ volunteers and American students with AUIP.  Sustainable Coastlines /Love Your Water were also key partners.

We view the MKE as an exemplar of both what we hope to see throughout the Avon-Ōtākaro RRZ and also how we hope to achieve it through collaborative partnerships.

We were also instrumental in successfully advocating for the restoration of the Poppies over Gallipoli sculpture. 

A special note of thanks is due to Alan McDonald, DOC Partnership Ranger, and Kenny Rose and John Skilton, CCC Park Rangers.

Changes in our leadership

It is with regret that we accept the resignation for Mark Gibson as Co-Chair and member of our Strategic Steering Group (SSG).

Mark was one of our key founding members and will be greatly missed - however he will still be actively involved in community earthquake recovery in his new roles.  And he hasn't hung up his walking boots - he'll still be leading the Great Avon-Ōtākaro River Walk - catch him if you can!

We welcome Sarah Butterfield as our new Co-Chair. Sarah is a long-term member of the AvON SSG who has worked tirelessly in a variety of community roles in New Brighton and for organisations such as Soil & Health.

Just where are we at now with the Avon-Ōtākaro Red Zone?

Well not a hell of a lot further than we were when we first set up AvON four and half years ago!

But now of course most of the Avon-Ōtākaro RRZ has been vacated, cleared and grassed over.
At least we have managed to retain a large number of trees
from old gardens: both native and exotic, including fruit and nut trees.  

But we have also lost large numbers and the 'ground treatment', sowing and mowing has made regeneration of native seedlings impossible throughout large tracts of land... and perfect for farming Canada Geese!

However when it comes to long term future uses and public consultation by government about the Avon-Ōtākaro RRZ, that still seems a ways off yet (we estimate mid 2016 at the earliest - but don't hold your breath...).

Under the Greater Christchurch Regeneration Act a new agency, Regenerate Christchurch, will be tasked to undertake this engagement with communities and to develop a Regeneration Plan for the Avon-Ōtākaro RRZ.  

AvON submitted in writing and in person before the Select Committee on the Act, advocating for the inclusion of: environmental 
regeneration; international best practice community engagement in the co-creation of regeneration plans; an immediate transition to a locally-led regeneration; immediate access to red zone lands for interim uses;
retaining the integrity of the city-to-sea Avon-Ōtākaro corridor; and the sale of the Avon-Ōtākaro RRZ lands to a new local Trust for $1 (subject to conditions).

It is our belief that if you take into consideration the length of consultation, planning, feasibility, design, and consenting processes, it will be another 3-5 years before we see anything happen on the ground in the Avon-Ōtākaro RRZ. This includes the lower Avon-Ōtākaro stop banks.

Hence our emphasis next year on our exemplar project, interim RRZ uses and temporary riverside amenity improvements.

Our priorities for 2016...

1. Progressing our MKE Project 

We will continue to progress the MKE Project with a focus on:

  • securing formal agreements with key partners;
  • completing the baseline biodiversity survey;
  • extending our liaison with local schools and development of LEOTC resources including the establishment of outdoor classroom areas and the physical infrastructure to support these;
  • planting another 2-3,000 native seedlings on the site and maintaining all the existing plantings to keep plant attrition to a minimum;
  • landscaping of the Poppies over Gallipoli site; 
  • development of Matariki Gardens; and
  • MKE events that promote the project 
2. Promotion of our Vision

We will continue to organise pubic events that promote our vision for the Avon-Ōtākaro RRZ (see the list above of what we already have in the pipeline).

We will also take every opportunity to promote our vision through the media on radio, TV, print and on-line - if you know of any opportunities to do this please do not hesitate to contact us!

3. Interim Uses of the Avon-Ōtākaro RRZ Lands

For the past five years these lands have been perceived as derelict no-mans lands running through the heart of the east. The uncertainty about the final placement of the stopbanks has resulted in very limited maintenance and a great loss of amenity alongside the river and its tributaries.

AvON has therefore prepared a Package of Interim Use Proposals for the Ōtākaro RRZ lands and submitted this to CERA/LINZ.

Our aim is to: 

  • exemplify a diverse range of possible uses that meet community needs and reflect the proposals for long term use already put forward by communities;
  • re-engage people with the Ōtākaro red zone and river, and so enable greater activation of informed community engagement in decisions regarding long term future use of the lands;
  • restore interim amenity value and public presence within the Ōtākaro river corridor until such time as long term uses of the lands have been agreed and implemented; and
  • immediately enhance the wellbeing of the most impacted communities and contribute positively to the social recovery of the eastern flatland suburbs.

If you have an idea for an interim use please do get in contact.

4. Temporary Riverside Amenity Improvements

Related to the above is advocacy for improvements in the short term to the amenity of the riverside margins and measures to improve the health of the river.

We acknowledge the generous support of the following:
Copyright © 2015 Avon-Ōtākaro Network, All rights reserved.

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