Greening the Red Zone

SESSION: Thursday 20th April
David Little

Canterbury’s earthquake sequence of 2010/2011 laid bare the risks of ignoring natural processes in our urban planning. Weak soils along the banks of Ōtākaro /Avon River suffered liquefaction, subsidence and lateral spread, resulting in the ‘red zoning’ of over 5000 homes across 602 hectares. Removal of these homes, while emotional, gave rise to a unique opportunity – creation of an ecologically-led ‘green spine’ linking the CBD with the coast.

Following an extensive community engagement process, the Regeneration Plan for the river corridor was adopted in 2019, and in 2021 the land began officially transferring across to Council.

The underpinning aim of the Regeneration Plan is to restore the area as a place for gathering mahinga kai – acknowledging that this requires significant improvements in aquatic and terrestrial ecology. This presentation sets out how we will achieve this, by working with (rather than against) natural processes, and the challenges presented by the 5000 former demolition sites. It will be a pragmatic overview of how we have applied mātauranga Māori, technology, creativity and collaboration to solve these challenges.

The session will wrap up with an insight into the planning challenges of the future, as land subsidence in the tidal corridor has effectively brought climate change impacts forward. We will detail our response to this, and how our activities may help inform the country’s response to this critical issue.

Presented By

David Little

Christchurch City Council