Christchurch Conversations: Towards 2030

Christchurch locals shared their experiences of having easy access to the things they need for day-to-day living, by bike or on foot. Photo: Robyn Simcock, Landcare Research/BBHTC.

What if you could get everything you need for daily living within a 15-minute walk or bike ride from home? Is it worth getting an EV? How can we keep our homes comfortable and the country running while reducing emissions? How do we make homes and buildings that are suitable to our changing climate?

These were just some of the questions raised in Christchurch Conversations: Towards 2030, a series of five events this year presented by Te Pūtahi Centre for Architecture and City Making, in collaboration with Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities Urban Wellbeing – Ngā Kāinga Ora programme and the Christchurch City Council (CCC), exploring how the city can achieve its climate goals and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. The talks are now all available on Te Pūtahi’s YouTube channel.

The free events took place in-person and online, and featured experts, businesses, individuals, and community groups who shared their knowledge and experiences on the given topic with the audience.

The first event, Building for the Future, examined how buildings are built, how they’re used, and how we can reduce our carbon footprint in this area – an estimated 20% of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings. It explored Urban Wellbeing BBHTC research how an urban wellbeing action tool – the mauri ora compass – could help to support communities to discuss, plan, and implement change in energy, ecological, and urban material systems.

Speakers included Katie Symons (Principal Advisor, Engineering, Building System Performance, MBIE) on embodied energy; Paul Finch (Project Manager, certified PassiveHaus tradesperson) on retrofitting buildings; Fiona Short (Associate Principal and Lead of Sustainability at Warren and Mahoney Architects) on reaching their emission reductions targets; Shay Singh (Head of Strategic Partnerships at Tether Limited), whose experience includes green renovation and sustainability finance; Scott Watson (Business Development Director, Naylor Love) on timber structures; and Amanda Yates (AUT Associate Professor and National Science Challenge Urban Wellbeing Research Programme Leader).

With COVID restrictions, the second event, Can we be a Zero-Waste City?, took place entirely on Zoom. The event explored what it would take to make the change from the take-make-waste model to a circular economy, where we keep our materials and resources in play for longer.

Speakers included Eilidh Hillson, a waste minimisation officer at CCC; Kahurangi Carter (Ngāti Maniapoto), a Regional Manager at Para Kore, who, in a talk entitled ‘The whakapapa of stuff’, introduced the concept of a circular economy and what that looks like from a Māori worldview; Dr Paul Smith, design engineer and product test manager for Consumer NZ, who shared thoughts on repairing goods and our legal right to repair; and Sue Coutts, former GM of Wanaka Wastebusters and zero waste advocate, who outlined the national goals of the Zero Waste Network.

The third talk in early October, Can we have clean, cheap, reliable energy?, featured Dr Jan Wright, former Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment; Pip Newland, Sustainability lead at Orion; Ryan Kuggeleijn, Sustainable Development Manager at Meridian Energy; Paul Fuge, Powerswitch Manager (Consumer NZ); and Dr Chris Mardon, Managing Director at EcoBulb. The speakers discussed a range of strategies for decarbonising our energy system. The event closed with the Hon. Dr Megan Woods, Minister of Energy and Resources, responding to the issues raised during the conversation.

Early November saw the last two events in the series – 15-minute Neighbourhoods followed the next day by an Info Expo.

15-minute Neighbourhoods explored ideas of liveability, density, sustainability, and community. Locals shared their experiences of having easy access to the things they need for day-to-day living, by bike or on foot, while expert speakers looked at how Christchurch could be a city of 15-minute neighbourhoods.

James Lunday (architect, planner and urban designer) introduced us to the concept of 15-minute neighbourhoods; Thomas Blakie, a first year University of Canterbury student, laid out his vision for tackling the two biggest issues at the forefront of young people’s minds – housing and the climate crisis; Hamid Mirbaha, a senior transport network planner, used hot-off-the-press analysis to show us how close Christchurch already is to being a city of 15-minute neighbourhoods; Anna Elphick, lead on Greater Christchurch 2050 – a 30-year plan focused on intergenerational wellbeing, gave us the run-down on how strategy and real life connect; and Josie Schroder, the principal advisor at CCC’s Urban Design, guided us through Christchurch’s planning maze.

At the Info Expo, people could take a closer look at EVs (electric vehicles), an electric bus and cargo bikes, have a go on e-scooters, and explore the many different ways of cutting carbon in their day-to-day travel, with local people who are already doing it. This was followed by talks on transport. Moving around a twenty-first century city clarified the role of Government and councils in making our travel clean, easy, and fair.

Piper Pengelley, a University of Canterbury student, presented a young person’s vision for transport in Christchurch in 2030; Caroline Shaw, University of Otago, laid out what a healthy, fair, low-carbon transport system would entail; Stewart Gibbon, General Manager for Public Transport at Environment Canterbury, gave us the low-down on what is happening with public transport; Simon Kingham, University of Canterbury/Ministry of Transport, took us through options that will make a real difference to our emissions; Erik Kennedy, poet, offered a creative response; and local residents share their stories of how they move around the city today.

Te Pūtahi wishes to thank Christchurch Conversations Partner Christchurch City Council, Series Research Partner Building Better Homes Towns and Cities: National Science Challenge, and Series Sponsor It’s Time Canterbury.

The recordings of these talks are available to view on Te Pūtahi’s YouTube channel. Please dip in and share links with your friends.

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Date posted: 29 November 2021