Export Matters: When will Christchurch get its mojo back?by lesley - July 11th, 2012. Filed under: Media Releases, What's New?.
After things go a bit pear shaped… the ‘phoenix’ (and that’s NOT the soccer team) has this uncanny ability to be reborn from its own ashes… and it’s the sort of good karma I’m hoping for on 27 July when the Central Christchurch Development Unit (CCDU) release its blueprint for the new Christchurch.
Once in the red-zone it’s obvious the city’s modern day city planners have a blank canvas to work with. I for one, hope they take advantage of this remarkable opportunity and think outside the box to create a blended city of historical and modern architecture – a low rise, vibrant city well defined into precincts. A transport efficient, sustainable, environmentally friendly city that is not only a positive, easy and fun to live in, but hugely attractive to visitors.
I also truly hope however, the assigned visionaries respect the past, our history and the cornerstones of the city’s famous architecture. It astounds me that the city’s Anglican Bishop is vigorously pounding the streets demanding that the Christchurch Cathedral be torn down to only 3 metres in height. The Cathedral is so much more than an Anglican Church; it is undoubtedly the heart of the city. Christchurch without its Cathedral would be like Sydney without the Opera House, New York without the Statue of Liberty or Paris without the Eiffel Tower. More than 80% of visitors to Christchurch visit Cathedral Square. It is our most prized possession and yet its fate may well rest in the hands of the Anglican Church. I know they own it but the Cathedral is more than a place of worship, more than stone & mortar – it’s the heart of the city.
I reckon, if we let the Cathedral tumble, we’ve well and truly given in to Mother Nature and her earthquakes – and that’s not what we’re about.
During WW2, more than 70% of Berlin was flattened – about the same as Christchurch CBD. Today Berlin rivals Paris as a must visit European destination. During the cities 70 year rebuild (so far…) it’s obvious the Germans hugely respect their heritage and history. Modern Berlin is a vibrant mix of the old and ultra-modern. It is amazing, awesome in fact.
We’ve already seen so many remarkable buildings in Christchurch crumble, I’d rather see some of our most prized structures (such as the Cathedral) left in ruins for 10-20-50 years until somebody has the money and inclination to do something positive with them, rather than the wrecking ball.
If tourism is to return to pre-quake levels by 2017 as suggested, we also need to get a serious rattle on. Key projects need to be defined and work commence. A Conference centre, a long term events, sporting arena and stadium will encourage new hotels, which in turn will encourage permanent restaurant and shopping precincts.
A USA travel wholesaler who recently visited Christchurch, told me for the meantime at least, she won’t be selling Christchurch to her clients. She said her recent visit to the city had made her cry, she was sad and went on to tell me that her client’s limited time in New Zealand was too valuable to spend in this compromised city – especially when the South Island and rest of New Zealand has so much to offer.
I’ve got high expectations that the 27 July announcement from the CCDU will give me and my clients, confidence that the city is moving forward, becoming something very special and a must visit destination in any New Zealand itinerary.
Martin Horgan – President Tourism Export Council of New Zealand