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Eden Project takes next step as ‘licence to occupy’ signed

Eden Project New Zealand (EPNZ) has announced that it has signed a ‘licence to occupy’ agreement with Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) and the Christchurch City Council (CCC) regarding a new Eden Project in Ōtautahi/Christchurch.

The licence will enable EPNZ to access the site to undertake investigations and activities to further their design without limiting public access to the area

This follows the signing of the global settlement agreement by the Crown and CCC and the announcement by Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister Megan Woods late last year that the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor (OARC) Regeneration Plan has been approved. An ‘eco tourism’ land use theme has been identified for the Ōtākaro Loop in the Regeneration Plan.

EPNZ first entered into discussions with Eden Project, the developers and operators of the world-renowned Eden Project in Cornwall, UK, some eight years ago. Long-term partners with EPNZ, Eden Project are pleased to hear the project can now move onto the next phase of planning and design.

“Good things come to those that wait… and we have been waiting with anticipation! As such, we are delighted to see the next steps on the journey to creating EPNZ in Christchurch, which represents an important opportunity to tell natural world and environmental stories in a New Zealand context, as part of an overwhelmingly urgent global story” says David Harland, CEO of Eden Project International.

David is currently in Christchurch, meeting with partners and stakeholders to further advance the project.

In contrast to the Eden Project in Cornwall, which focuses on our relationship with plants, EPNZ will look at our relationship with water, while showcasing New Zealand’s environments and biodiversity.

It will celebrate what makes us uniquely New Zealand – our nature and culture – and showcase how we can live in greater harmony with our natural environment – working within, rather than against, the grain of nature.

To celebrate New Zealand’s unique culture, the key buildings will be giant hīnaki (traditional woven eel traps) that will house immersive, inspirational and educational experiences. It will anchor their concept of a ‘laboracity’ – a place to learn, explore, experiment and to present new ways of thinking.

Kaitiakitanga defines the approach to ecological regeneration, practise, and visitor engagement. As a social enterprise, the project will regenerate Ōtautahi/Christchurch through growth in the local and national tourism economy.

“Christchurch has lost ground to other major New Zealand tourism destinations since the 2011 earthquake” says founding EPNZ trustee, Ray Sleeman. “A social enterprise of this nature and scale is crucial to bringing visitors back to Christchurch, to increase their length of stay and spend, and to ultimately help all of Christchurch recover.”

Working with a design team encompassing the Eden Project International team, cultural design advisors Matapopore on behalf Ngāi Tūāhuriri, along with local landscape designers and ecology specialists, the updated design for the EPNZ footprint now reflects the area available in the OARC plan for the Ōtākaro Loop.

This vision for EPNZ is consistent with the OARC regeneration plan’s objectives for Christchurch and New Zealand, along with the plan’s vision and objectives for the OARC and publicly accessible green spine.

“Mahinga kai is key guiding principle of the OARC Regeneration Plan, and this is also the case for EPNZ” says Aroha Reriti-Crofts, Chairperson for Matapopore Charitable Trust, responsible for ensuring Ngāi Tūāhuriri/Ngāi Tahu values, aspirations, and narratives are realised within the recovery of Ōtautahi/Christchurch. “It is important to Matapopore and EPNZ that the design focuses on Ngāi Tūāhuriri/Ngāi Tahu values to help to create an engaging dialogue, whilst regenerating ecosystems facilitate meaningful cultural practices.”

“With acceptance of the OARC Regeneration Plan and signing of this licence, we are looking forward to moving into the next phase for us, which will be about further developing our design and working with interested parties to explore opportunities to bring this exciting concept to reality as soon as practical for the benefit of Christchurch and New Zealand” says Martin Hadlee, EPNZ Chairperson.

“This licence will give us wonderful opportunities to start to meaningfully engage with people on the site – to learn about and celebrate the past history and traditional practices of the land, along with its unique ecology and how we can be better environmental stewards or kaitiakitanga for the area” says trustee Shelley McMurtrie. “It will also be a chance to link with other proponents for ecological regeneration and local food production within the wider OARC area.”

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