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The Influencers: Marian Johnson

Ministry of Awesome Chief Awesome Officer

International Women’s Day just passed and I’m thinking about why it’s hard to get a long list together of female startup founders in Christchurch.

The scarcity of female founders is a global issue and to appreciate the size of the problem here’s a few stats to consider: 83 percent of all venture capital investment goes to all-male founder teams, 12 percent goes to mixed gender teams and only a tiny four percent goes to all-female teams.

We also know that investor teams are mostly male. In the UK, 48 percent of VC teams are all-male with only 13 percent having a female senior executive.

The majority of startups attracting capital are technology-based and fewer than 26 percent of tech employees are women.

Attitudes to risk differ amongst the sexes, with men showing as more pro-risk than women.

High growth startups are inherently risky so maybe an aversion to risk is also one of the factors for why female founders are rarer than male.

But companies with female leaders are 12 percent more profitable than their counterparts.

We also know that, according to Pew Research, women are 34 percent better at working out compromises and 34 percent more likely to be honest and ethical.

Whether the problem is unconscious bias, lack of representation in ‘startup’ sectors, or gender profiles, we must get behind our female founders and give them the connections and opportunity they need to level up and, in doing so, benefit us all.


Architect Craig South

A new approach to an old problem: architect Craig South explores innovative thinking about living in the CBD

Architect Craig South
Architect Craig South

Architect Craig South explores an alternative to the norm when it comes to central city living.

Architecture is typically viewed as a whole – the exterior lines, the internal layout and the fit-out. And while it is all of that, if we were to strip it back to a considered shell, we have what is known as Naked Architecture – a term being used overseas to describe buildings being designed and built with no preconceived ideas around their internal layout and use; buildings that the end-user is able to individually tailor to suit their needs.
This is not to say that the cornerstones of architecture are ignored. The roles of the developer and the architect are still vital throughout the process. Each unit or apartment needs to be the result of considered design; crafted for its individual location and placement within the overall structure in order for the building to be a success. The developer and architect are equally important during the fit-out stage, ensuring the end result is a well thought out, bespoke home.
By offering buyers this ability to buy ‘shell space’ and fit it out to suit their personal needs, we are creating end-user buy-in in terms of what they are wanting, giving buyers the opportunity to stake a claim and invest, beyond financially, into their purchase.
Where someone might spend more on floor tiles and fittings, another occupant will spend less. One may have an ‘entertainers’ kitchen and one large living area, while another will have multiple living spaces and sleeping options to suit their family – allowing everyone to create a home that falls within their budget while meeting their personal needs.

Architect Craig South

Having been seeking an inner city living option for my family, it has become apparent that finding the perfect solution is hard. Our decision to move into the inner city has been driven by the high level of amenity and the incredible opportunity Hagley Park offers as a borrowed landscape, ensuring that no matter where we move in this central neighbourhood and what size our floor plan, we have this vast green space on our doorstep. This ensures we won’t be compromising on the Kiwi backyard, rather opening up the opportunities that come with living within close proximity to such an under-utilised offering.
Personally, we would jump at the chance to convert a ‘shell’ into spaces that reflect our family’s needs both now and into the future. And what is exciting is that someone else could create something completely different in the adjacent space. This is a concept that allows for individualisation of style, budget and layout, creating a cross section and diversification of people living in our city.

Architect Craig SouthThis type of development is not an unknown concept in New Zealand, or even Christchurch. We commonly adopt it in the design and build of commercial buildings, so the question is, why not do it for personal living spaces?
We tend to look to Europe for passive design learnings and other design concepts, so why not look to them for inspiration to encourage families into our inner city?
With our central city neighbourhood bursting with amenities, yet slow to attract residential development post-earthquake, it is time to think beyond ordinary and offer a new and unique way to encourage people back.

Albert Brantley

The Influencers Column: Albert Brantley

Albert Brantley
Albert Brantley

You may notice a change in the Christchurch skyline this month with the first of the steel trusses being placed to support the roof of the Convention Centre.
These first trusses span 50 metres and sit over the 1400-person auditorium. They give you the first real opportunity to gain some appreciation of the scale of the facility, which occupies two city blocks.
In total around 4500 tonnes of primary and secondary steel will be required for the building.
About a third of the facility’s 25000m3 of concrete has now been poured, with work on the foundation of the 3600m2 multi-use exhibition hall currently underway.
Concrete pumps have also been hard at work on the walls, which are being poured in place rather than being trucked in as the more conventional precast panels. This is because supporting the roof over these large open spaces and achieving the appropriate earthquake resilience requires walls around half a metre think. As a result, it would very difficult to truck in precast panels this thick and heavy.
A great place to watch ‘François’ the French tower crane and the German crawler crane ‘Helping Hans’ go about their work on the Convention Centre is Victoria Square. When the facility opens in 2020 it will be the other way around, with the Convention Centre’s meeting rooms on Armagh Street offering impressive views of the historic statues, garden beds and Bowker Fountain in the Square.
But for now, just keep looking up.

Nathan Godfrey: Canterbury Rugby Football Union CEO

The Influencers Column: Nathan Godfrey

Nathan Godfrey: Canterbury Rugby Football Union CEO
Nathan Godfrey: Canterbury Rugby Football Union CEO

I’m often asked about the new stadium and, although this is a complex subject, my answer is simple. Time is money.
We are grateful for the temporary stadium and what it once represented, but extending its life is a growing concern. Another is the escalating cost of delaying construction of a replacement home for Lancaster Park. The business case for a new stadium needs to consider affordability of the build and the affordability of operating it for 50 years.
Rugby is in our DNA; as a region we lead the world in producing world class players and teams, but that doesn’t mean we can demand a new stadium. We respect there have been higher priorities over the past seven years, but time is now the greatest risk. Rugby is just one of many tenants who could utilise a multi-purpose stadium; we support the decision to fast-track this project and hope to be offered a seat at the table when a final decision is made.
The debate appears to be focused on whether (or weather) we need a roof? We need to shift the conversation around the economic benefit to our city, but just as importantly the benefit to our people. In other words: Wellbeing Economics.
Wellbeing Economics is about acknowledging the significant role sport and recreation plays in the community, in the development of our values and character, and in defining who we are and how we live our lives.
The decision to build the Metro Sports Facility is a strong example of this, and just reward for all the sports codes in Canterbury.
Christchurch has always been an aspirational city, and I’m of the view that both facilities will inspire our kids to dream big.

Dr Megan Woods: Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister

The Influencers Column: Dr Megan Woods

Dr Megan Woods: Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister
Dr Megan Woods: Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister

For seven years, a generation of young Cantabrians has had to make do without important sporting facilities. These were meant to be provided by early 2016 in the Metro Sports Facility, a proposed world class sporting facility.
When this Government came to office, all this had come to was an empty lot. Beset by a $75 million budget blowout, the project was stalled with no realistic plan for completion. Likewise, there had been no real progress on plans or budgets for a stadium for the city to replace the one lost in the earthquake.
This wasn’t a scenario we were willing to let continue. Over the last few months the Crown has worked closely with Christchurch City Council, Sport Canterbury and the sporting codes themselves to get both facilities back on track.
Together, we have completed the detailed design of the Metro Sports Facility. Through a combination of changes to the procurement approach and final design, the estimated cost of the project was reduced by more than $50 million. This long-awaited facility is on track to open by the end of 2021.
Likewise, we’ve worked together to fast-track work on the stadium and work can begin on a detailed business case. The details will be subject to that business case, but we foresee a roofed stadium that will allow the city to host major rugby test matches and other significant sports and entertainment events.
Together we’ve been able to get real progress on projects that have been struggling and add a big boost of momentum to the recovery of our central city.

Tim Nees: New Work Studio / Tim Nees Architects Director

The Influencers Column: Tim Nees

Tim Nees: New Work Studio / Tim Nees  Architects Director
Tim Nees: New Work Studio / Tim Nees Architects Director

For the past two years I have been Branch Chair of the NZ Institute of Architects here in Canterbury, leading the committee through a number of programmes and events that have increased public awareness of the practice of architecture. Last week I stepped aside for a new Chair – Mike Callaghan – to lead further changes and improvements over the next two years.
It is vitally important that the work of architects is understood in all its complexity and richness, and not judged solely on the resulting buildings. And it is important that buildings are understood not just as objects we walk or drive past, but things we inhabit and experience in all sorts of ways. Buildings are ‘mini-worlds’ and we are the ‘life-form’ they support and interact with. So to encourage the public to engage with buildings they might not normally engage with is of vital importance for the profession.
Ways of doing this will be what drives The Festival of Architecture in September this year. Not only will there be open studios and city walks, but backstage passes opening the doors to the backrooms and service spaces of some of the buildings in the city. There will also be lectures and presentations showcasing future work coming up in the city, and also talks and discussions around the buildings we have and the buildings we’ve lost. And these discussions will be extended into the virtual arena, through on-line engagement with community groups and other professional bodies.

Ivan Iafeta

The Influencers Column: Ivan Iafeta

Ivan Iafeta
Ivan Iafeta: Regenerate Christchurch CEO

For the past 14 months, identifying and assessing potential land uses in the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor has been a significant part of Regenerate Christchurch’s work to develop a regeneration plan for the area.
The transformational opportunity it represents, as well as the local and national benefits, cannot be underestimated and it has been critical that we ensure our decision-making is informed, consistent and accountable.
While an independent community needs survey, carried out by Nielsen, identified a strong community interest in the corridor’s water quality, research findings on their own do not provide a comprehensive mechanism for testing all ideas.
Therefore, at Regenerate Christchurch, our assessment of potential land use combinations has included considering how these options might support safe, strong, healthy and connected communities, provide increased recreation and leisure activities, restore native habitat, create sustainable economic activity, attract visitors, provide opportunities to learn from the natural environment and address the challenges of climate change.
We have also assessed the potential land use combinations for their feasibility and how they might provide low and no-cost activities for all ages and abilities, and improve connections between central and east Christchurch.
The Red Zone Futures exhibition, which will run for five weeks from 26 May at 99 Cashel Mall – with parallel mobile and online exhibitions – will demonstrate the transformational opportunities within the river corridor. Opportunities that will deliver significant benefits for us here in Christchurch, as well as people around New Zealand and around the world.

Leeann Watson

The Influencers Column: Leeann Watson

Leeann Watson
Leeann Watson: Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive

Two years since the Health and Safety legislation changed, what have we achieved? In short, quite a lot! In 2012 the Government set a target of a 25 percent reduction in work related deaths and injuries by 2020.
According to Statistics NZ, deaths and serious non-fatal injuries are both below the target set by the Government already however, injuries that required more than a week off work are still well above the 2020 target, though also trending down.
Statistics are all well and good, but what do they really tell us? I think the real story is the change in culture across workplaces; businesses and individuals have moved away from a compliance focused approach, to a morally ‘it’s the right thing to do’ attitude.
There are undoubtedly areas that need to improve, but it is heartening to see an increase in individuals and organisations participating in health and safety training. We’re seeing individuals choosing to attend training, rather than being sent, with this increased willingness to participate from the shop floor up behind the movement.
WorkSafe commissioned a three-year survey (2014-2016) to analyse the balance in attitude and behaviours between workers and employers around health and safety. Interestingly, employers showed a more optimistic view of the state of health and safety within their organisation. One way to close this gap is to ensure employers talk to their people at the coalface. The enthusiasm for health and safety is there; it needs to be harnessed and supported if we are to continue to make our workplaces safer.

Forsyth Barr Stadium, photos courtesy of Dunedin Venues

It’s time to think big: Cymon Allfrey on the big thinking we need to embrace in the rebuild

Cymon Allfrey
Cymon Allfrey

Having missed out on hosting yet another big name, architect Cymon Allfrey highlights the importance of moving forward with our plans for a stadium.

It is without doubt that we are a city capable of hosting events, with the World Busker’s Festival, the Under 19 Cricket World Cup and the recent Black Caps/England Cricket test, as recent examples. However, our lack of facilities means we often miss out on events such as the upcoming Shania Twain tour or the recent Ed Sheeran South Island visit. While it is easy to see the potential economic loss we face as a result of no stadium, what we aren’t as quick to focus on, is the social impact.
Approaching it as an oppor-tunity, the Dunedin City Council thought big when it came to hosting Ed and, as a result, gained much more than economic success for their city.
They renamed the city DunEDin, closed streets and, with the addition of food stalls and street performers, achieved a wonderful party atmosphere. They approached the concerts like guests coming to dinner: they tidied up, set the table, put their best foot forward and enjoyed the fruits of their labour, achieving something truly special while propelling their city into the international spotlight, firmly establishing Dunedin as a destination and should be celebrated for their ambitious approach and innovative thinking.

Forsyth Barr Stadium, photos courtesy of Dunedin Venues
Forsyth Barr Stadium, photos courtesy of Dunedin Venues

What their success also highlighted was the need and importance of our stadium – or lack thereof. There is no doubt that our council needs to look beyond the cost to build the stadium and get going. In order to make Christchurch a destination, we need to establish ourselves as an attraction and give people a reason to return to our city, sooner rather than later.
We have all the facilities for tourists: beautiful restaurants, accommodation options, bars and retail, the operators of which have invested in our city. Now it is time for our city to invest in them and help draw the crowds.
With this in mind, we need to ask ourselves whether what we are planning is enough. Why are we not building something that will propel us into the spotlight and make Christchurch a true international destination? Perhaps we need to be more aspirational in our thinking – why not build towards the 2030 Commonwealth Games?

Thinking big The benefits, social and economic, are there for all to see – now we just need to get on and do it, all while ensuring we aren’t being shortsighted in the process. Let’s not continue to argue over a 35,000-seat stadium; we need to stretch ourselves and set Christchurch apart. It is no longer enough to replicate Dunedin’s stadium as they have proved they can offer both performers and visitors much more than a one-off concert; it’s the opportunity to experience an event.
Having personally experienced DunEDin, I would drive the ten hours there and back again tomorrow in order to do it all over. They aspire to host big names and in this case they rose to the challenge.
Dunedin had the foresight to see that the reward goes beyond the one-off monetary boost from a single event – the question is, can we? And how much more are we prepared to miss out on?

Dr Megan Woods: Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister

The Influencers Column: Dr Megan Woods

Dr Megan Woods: Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister
Dr Megan Woods: Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister

As we head in to the 8th year since the earthquakes, Canterbury has so much to be proud of. Hundreds of thousands of homes have been repaired, large swaths of our city have been rebuilt and some truly amazing new public spaces have been created. For most people, the trauma of the earthquakes has passed, their homes have been repaired or rebuilt and life has returned to a “new normal.” A recent wellbeing survey by the DHB shows that for most people, wellbeing levels have returned to what they were before the earthquakes.
For too many people though, this progress has been elusive – for the just over two and a half thousand people still waiting for their EQC claim to be settled, life cannot move on. What’s even more frustrating for people is that almost all of these outstanding repairs are remedial repairs – cases where work has already been done but has had to be re-repaired because of issues or faulty work.
Getting progress for these people is a key priority for me as Minister – we cannot be said to have truly recovered from the earthquake until every Cantabrian can move on with their lives and have hope in their future. That’s why I’ve appointed an independent Ministerial Advisor to work with EQC’s board and management on a plan to urgently resolve these outstanding claims and get progress for these people at last.
Seven years is too long to wait, it’s time these people were finally able to move on.