What value do you see the arts having in Christchurch and how will you support the arts?
Culture and the Arts is one of the primary reasons that I chose to return to Christchurch after living and working overseas.
I liked to tell people that I believed Christchurch was a fantastically liveable city, as its residents could easily access the Arts, especially an inner city resident like myself. Pre-quake, I could walk to the art galleries, museums, theatre performances, music performances, cultural performances, street performances and the many Summer Time events hosted in Hagley Park.
I am proud of the fact that our city of Christchurch values the Arts. I personally experienced this commitment when the central city was reopened to the public, post-quake, and the city council selected one of my poems (In My Father’s Footsteps) to be a fence wrap on Colombo Street, opposite Ballantyne’s. Many artists, writers, sculptor’s and architects contributed to this celebration. I continue to marvel at the many art works that beautify our open spaces. As an inner city dweller it has been very important to my well-being to discover beauty in the empty spaces.
I also endorse the fact that the city council has been working closely with Ngai Tahu and Ngai Tuahuriri Runaka to embed our stories, history and designs within every aspect of the rebuild of the central city. I believe this will not only add to the attractiveness of our inner city for visitors, but it will also demonstrate the growing treaty partnership relationship that is building between Ngai Tahu and Christchurch City and its Council.
During my time in student support at Te Wananga o Aotearoa I worked with many aspiring artists and performers. The desire to express oneself artistically is a fundamental drive in many people. For others it is the witnessing of such artistic endeavours that brings joy to the soul. I do believe it is the role of a city council to ensure its citizens can access the Arts, in all its myriad of forms.
What value do you see social enterprise having in Christchurch, and how will you support it?
The strong history of social enterprise that exists within Christchurch is another one of the aspects of this city that drew me back here and makes me believe that communities can led positive change in their cities.
My first personal experience of social enterprise was when I lived in Madras Street as a student; and Piko Wholefoods was established. This fueled my imagination with the knowledge that a community of interest could take a leadership position and by forming a social enterprise it could provide a service for its community that was previously not available. I am an active member of Otautahi Maori Women’s Welfare League and our branch established Te Puawaitanga ki Otautahi Trust in 2005 to provide support services to mothers and their babies. I am proud to be one of the trustees for this health focused social enterprise.
My definition of social enterprise incorporates the many and varied organisations that provide products and services in the Not For Profit sector. I am a champion for community-led initiates that fill gaps that exist in our communities. I am the past Co-Chair for One Voice Te Reo Kotahi, the post-quake NGO network which lobbied CCC, CERA and Ngai Tahu for inclusion in the decision making process. When the Ministry of Awesome was established I attended their initial hui, as I was keen to see if it would fit alongside the support that I provided to our small business students at Te Wananga o Aotearoa. I have since referred many of our students to their Coffee and Jam networking hui.
I place a high value on the role that social enterprise will play in the future of Christchurch. I know that community-led initiatives are already driving our future Avon River Red Zone projects. It will be by harnessing the power of social enterprise and ensuring that community-led Not For Profit initiatives are fairly and equally evaluated by the Christchurch City Council, alongside commercial business propositions, that I believe we will create a future Christchurch that meets the vision of Share an Idea.
When New Regent Street first reopened I proudly took the national executive of the Green Party to see the social enterprise businesses based there; Rekindle and Shop Eight. We spent a fabulous evening in Shop Eight meeting many of the young entrepreneurs who had set up in New Regent Street and learnt about their various business endeavours.
What would the city look like today without the transitional movement post earthquake?
As an inner city resident the transitional movement has been fundamental to keeping me in the inner city and sticking with my rebuild. I proudly show off the Fridge Library. I do hope it will stay. It symbolizes to me the power of the transition movement and the importance of space and place. There were very few of us living in the inner city post-quake and the transition movement turned empty spaces into community places we could use and be proud to show off to those few visitors that were brave enough to come into the city to visit us.
For me personally the inner city is not somewhere that I wish to imagine existing, without the transition movement. Turning empty spaces into community places is what encouraged me to stay living in my broken home, waiting for my rebuild. It gave me a sense of hope and joy and a belief that our city of the future would have soul and beauty, and meet the well-being needs of its citizens as well as the commercial needs of its business community.
If we excluded any economic measures how would you value the contribution of the arts to our society, our city, our community?
I believe Christchurch, as a city, has always celebrated the importance of the Arts. Be it; Buskers Festivals, International Arts Festivals, Writers Festivals, kinetic sculptures, or the poems in Victoria Street.
It should be the responsibility of a city council to promote the four well-beings; social, economic, environmental and cultural. Although Central Government continues to try to erode the capacity of local authorities to directly support the Arts and other well beings within our community, I believe that if we, as a council, harness the power of social enterprise and community-led initiatives, then as a council, we can continue to support and promote the four well-beings in Christchurch.
Christchurch is fast becoming the social enterprise centre of New Zealand, reflected in the fact we are hosting the 2017 Social Enterprise World Forum. What seems common practice in UK city councils is for these governance bodies to prioritise social enterprises in all tendering processes to encourage local economies. What are your thoughts around bringing similar policies into CCC?
As I mentioned previously, I place a high value on the role that social enterprise plays in the future of Christchurch. I know that community-led initiatives are already driving our future Avon River Red Zone projects. It will be by harnessing the power of social enterprise and ensuring that community-led Not For Profit initiatives are fairly and equally evaluated by the Christchurch City Council, alongside commercial business propositions, that I believe we will create a future Christchurch that meets the vision of Share an Idea.