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The Big Idea for Regenerating the Red Zone

The Big Idea for Regenerating the Red Zone

A major new visitor attraction has been proposed for Christchurch based on the very successful Eden Project in the UK. From the Mountains to the Sea (Ki Uta Ki Tai) will tell the story of water through our nature, culture and science with benefits for the community and tourism. Its proposed location is the Avon Loop and will form part of the proposals for the Avon Otakaro Network.

A group of Christchurch organisations drawing from education, tourism, Maori (representing Ngai Tahu through the Ihutai Ahuwhenua Trust), engineering and construction sectors has been working on the project for the last eighteen months.

This has entailed a number of visits to The Eden Project in Cornwall, England by those involved with the project. Most recently Professor David Simmons met with the Eden Team including Sir Tim Smit the Co-Founder of Eden. As a result of the meeting Eden has expressed its strong support for the project.

“We are really excited about what we have heard. The project can be not just a tourism destination but also a place that celebrates the culture of Maori and the environmental movement that is coming out of New Zealand. There is something very symbolically powerful that is coming out of the ruins of the dreadful earthquakes. There is also something very symbolic about collaboration between two countries and two groups who have an understanding and narrative about a positive future rather than a negative past. We are excited about our collaboration, the project’s potential... and we look forward to seeing you soon.” – Sir Tim Smit, Founder, EdenProject

There is strong support for the project from the Ihutai Ahu Whenua Trust representing Maori with enduring connections with Avon Otakaro “We look forward to a strong partnership based on cultural heritage (tikaka) and science (matauraka) to restore this great foodbasket to its former glory, and in developing and promoting a shared vision for its enduring legacy”. The Late Henare Rakiihia Tau, Chairman of the Ihutai Ahuwhenua Trust. June 2014.

The reasons for linking with The Eden Project are driven by the success of that organisation and their Vision which is “To take the most derelict and sterile place we could find and transform it into life”. Eden is the world’s leading man made environmental centre - A theme park with a serious sustainable message for the world, founded on environmental technologies, science, education, arts and leisure.

Its success has transformed the way Cornwall is perceived by the world and in turn the way Cornwall sees itself and the future; 13 million visitors over 11 years; £1 billion into the Cornish economy; 50th strongest brand in the UK; The third strongest brand in leisure and entertainment in the UK.

To regain its status as the hub of South Island Tourism, Christchurch needs to reinstate itself as a premium destination. To achieve this we must now construct an attraction that stands out on the global stage, is globally branded, is innovative and speaks to the heartbeat of who and where we are.

Major potential benefits of such a regeneration project are: An increase in international visitors to New Zealand and Christchurch; An anchor project around which other attractions and visitor services can cluster; A place for locals to engage with cutting edge science focussed on one of our most precious resources – water; A project to add quality to visitor experiences international and

domestic) and act as a growth pole for accommodation, transport, recreational services and events;

A source of regional employment, enjoyment and pride; Opportunity for Kotahitaka (Unity) across all sectors of the Christchurch Rebuild; To foster the continued development of “Maori Cultural Awareness” within the natural & built environments.

A prime objective for the trust is to be allocated appropriate Red Zone space through the CERA evaluation process. To assist with this The Eden Executive Team including Sir Tim Smit have been invited to visit Christchurch in November this year. This will include a number of public engagements from this truly inspirational speaker.

Following the visit a detailed feasibility study will be completed and business case prepared to determine the viability of the project.


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