News Updates from Avon-Ōtākaro Network, May 2016
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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 up-to-date info about these events check out our Facebook page **
 19 June    Matariki Celebration in the Zone
 29/30 July   Mahinga Kai Exemplar Planting Days with Sustainable Coastlines and Million Metres
 24 September - 8 October   Six Red Zone Treks - 2016 Walking Festival
25 September   The Great Avon-Ōtākaro River Walk with River of Life

Our Crowd Funding Campaign for 2000 plants


Ngāi Tahu and Avon-Ōtākaro Network are leading the Mahinga Kai Exemplar (MKE) Project in Anzac Drive Reserve in partnership with CCC and DOC.  

In July 2016, we are teaming up with Sustainable Coastlines as part of their  "Love your Water" campaign to plant 2000 native trees and shrubs along 680 metres of a small tributary that connects Travis Wetland with the Ōtākaro-Avon River.

The planting will help restore habitats and support inanga (whitebait), which like to spawn in the area, but need the right habitat to do so.

To donate please go to:

We thank you for any support you can give to our project – either by donating and/or sharing with your friends and networks.

And don't forget to come along to the community planting day on 30 July!

  • We are planting 1000 native trees and riparian (water edge) plants
  • BBQ, refreshments and entertainment
  • Wear gumboots and old clothes, bring gardening gloves and a spade if you have them
  • We will be planting rain or shine
  • Everybody welcome!

Too good to miss!

An awesome event for whanau & families!
Note it in your diary now!
Celebrating Matariki , mahinga kai and 2 years of community restoration planting with the Avon-Ōtākaro Network in partnership with Ngāi Tahu, CCC and DOC.
  • Kids activities and treasure hunt
  • Mokihi (raupo waka) - making, weaving and carving workshops
  • See where whitebait spawn and how our planting helps fish, birds, insects and humans thrive
  • Planting trees - native and orchard trees - bring a spade and gumboots
  • Entertainment, displays and talks
  • Good coffee, free soup and hangi available
We have chosen this day because it is favourable for planting food and is the day before the full moon.

And, as the name of the event suggests it also falls within Matariki – the Māori New Year – a time of remembrance and renewal, when the Matariki, or Pleiades, constellation can be seen above the horizon.

Baseline Biodiversity Survey

The first step in establishing a baseline survey of biodiversity in the Mahinga Kai Exemplar was published recently by Shane Orchard who is a member of the AvON Strategic Steering Group and is currently doing a PhD at University of Canterbury.

The report makes recommendations to address information gaps, and current threats and management opportunities observed at the site to support design and monitoring of restoration programmes.

"Citizen science approaches using NatureWatch NZ could be usefully employed although some additional survey effort would likely be required to establish reliable baselines"

One priority recognised was the need for more studies to establish "salinity patterns and water levels at the site at different times of the year to enable a better understanding of seasonal variation."

The report also identified the need to "conduct a cultural baseline monitoring for additional aspects important to mahinga kai, for example through use of a modular methodology such as State of the Takiwā."

The full report is available here.  

We are currently seeking additional funding to extend this work.

Whaka Inanga:
Causing Whitebait

Kiwis are all familiar with whitebait; they are a highly valued mahinga kai. In previous times Christchurch's rivers were celebrated for their whitebait/inanga spawning habitat - in the early days pakeha called them 'cow fish' as it turned the rivers white like milk.

However with changes to the river banks and vegetation from urbanisation whitebait spawning has decreased significantly over time, and then the effects of  the 2011 earthquakes has increased uncertainty as to where their spawning areas now are.

In the largest initiative of its kind, Whaka Inaka aims to greatly improve spawning success by providing temporary spawning habitat along 3 km of riverbank in the Heathcote/Ōpāwho and Avon/Ōtākaro rivers, and will monitor them closely over the breeding season.

Lake Kate Sheppard in the Mahinga Kai Exemplar is the primary site in the Ōtākaro catchment being monitored.

The project is led by EOS Ecology in partnership with Ngāi Tahu, we will help improve mahinga kai values of the rivers.

Linking with Shane Orchard's University of Canterbury PhD research project, the initiative will help identify new potential spawning locations and so assist in the longer-term goal to permanently restore spawning habitat.

AvON members and volunteers are very involved in this great endeavour.  Click here for the FaceBook page.



Report from the Executive Committee of
Avon-Ōtākaro Incorporated 

The year reviewed in this report marks the fifth since the February quakes and AvON’s existence.  It has been one of transition from recovery to regeneration with the end of CERA and the establishment of new central and local government agencies.  For AvON it has been one of consolidation and preparation.
The year saw AvON continue to promote our vision to a much wider audience, consolidate support, partnerships and respect, and progress our flagship project, the Mahinga Kai Exemplar at Anzac Drive Reserve.
While decisions regarding the future use of the Ōtākaro red zone lands are still awaited, the joint strategy of promoting the vision through media to a wider audience while progressing an exemplar project on CCC-owned land within the red zone has proven to be very successful in building momentum and community engagement with the AvON vision.
AvON played a key role in the production of the 7-part Eyes East TV series which was broadcast on CTV and continues to be published on line.  The series chronicles many of the proposals for the Otakaro red zone as they stood in 2015 while advocating for an integrated plan for the whole corridor and surrounding suburbs.  It provides a solid foundation, a useful reference point and a springboard for future engagement.
The series has been complemented by a range of media pieces by us and our partners in both local and national media that promote aspects of our vision.
We continue to enlist strong grass roots support and connectedness with local community activities and events such as River of Flowers, planting days and river clean ups while leveraging off other local events and festivals.
The Mahinga Kai Exemplar has been developed into a high profile natural restoration project in the east with 5000 native plants now in the ground and a further 2000 planned to be planted in the very near future.
The project has always been envisioned as a platform for learning: for students and researchers in the co-creation of resources and assets for learning experiences outside the classroom; and for agencies in the development of new ways of collaborating to fund and implement a large scale natural restoration project in the east. 
This has inevitably presented the project team with many significant challenges at times, however the progress and learnings being made are testament to the tenacity and skills of the team now established to advance this project.
We continue to be challenged by the lack of movement with regard to access and interim use of the red zone lands.  We see this as key to community re-engagement with the lands in the future.  A package of proposals for interim uses has remained with LINZ for several months without progress. 
Avon-Otakaro Network continues to work in a rapidly changing environment and so needs to retain a high level of agility and nimbleness in pursuing its priorities. Our current priority is the establishment of a raft of new relationships with new agencies.
We have been successful in securing funding for our activities from Rata Foundation, Todd Foundation and recently the Tindall Foundation – the latter for a period of 3 years.  Other support in kind or financial has come from CCC, DOC, UC, Mainland Foundation, Christchurch Earthquake Appeals Trust and Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu.
Overall 2015/16 was a very successful year for Avon- Ōtākaro Network thanks largely to the dedication, hard work and passion of the contractors, Strategic Steering Group members and volunteers
Priorities for 2016/17

Guiding Principle:  Economic regeneration of the east will not be sustainable unless environmental, cultural and social regeneration is given as much focus and significance as commercial drivers.  
  • Development of the Mahinga Kai Exemplar project as an outstanding exemplar of
    • Native habitat restoration with enhancement of biodiversity, water quality and mahinga kai values
    • Co-creation of learning experiences outside the classroom for students at all levels
    • Complete the formalisation of the collaborative partnerships and work programme to achieve these objectives cost-effectively and sustainably with communities
  • Engagement with:
    • Regenerate Chch
    • Development Chch
    • Ōtākaro Limited
    • LINZ
    • DPMC Canterbury Unit
    • Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and Ngāi Tūāhuriri Rūnanga
  • Preparation for RRZ future use public consultation: advocacy for best practice community engagement, for recognition of community values, guiding principles, proposals and community aspirations already put forward, and for integrated planning.  Highlight the outcomes of the EVO::SPACE consultation.
  • Promoting options for equitable access to funding for scoping, prefeasibility and business case studies for long term proposals for future uses of RRZ lands so that communities and authorities can make informed iterative planning decisions.
  • Facilitating Master Planning on behalf of the community   The whole is more than the sum of the proposals – establish the overarching narrative, promote the synergies, efficiencies and mutual leverage
  • Promoting community understanding, responsibility and leadership regarding risks from natural hazards
  • Facilitate proposals, champions, project teams and funding for Interim Uses of RRZ Lands: based on package of proposals submitted 30 November
  • Promoting development of a long term governance model for the future of the RRZ that protects the interests of local communities and mana whenua, and preserves the integrity of the city-to-sea corridor.
We acknowledge the generous support of the following:
Copyright © 2016 Avon-Ōtākaro Network, All rights reserved.

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