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The Influencers: Joanna Norris

ChristchurchNZ Chief Executive

A growing number of Kiwis are eyeing up Ōtautahi Christchurch as a tempting place to live.

Twenty per cent of those recently surveyed said they were open to relocating to Christchurch within the next five years.

This is a great indicator of the vibrancy and profile of our city.

We regularly gauge the perceptions of people outside of the city, including their willingness to travel or move to Christchurch.

Perceptions are important. How people view our city, what they know, what they don’t know and how they speak about it influences our economic growth.

Waitaha Canterbury requires an additional 70,000 workers over the next 15 years to fill vacancies created by an aging population. We’re competing not just nationally, but globally, to attract a strong workforce.

If we want to maintain and grow our market share of the national economy, we need to work hard to attract people to the city and to understand what drives behaviours and perceptions.

Some of the most important factors are the cost of living, housing affordability, housing quality and ease of getting around – all areas in which Christchurch outperformed both Auckland and Wellington.

These results are hugely positive for the city, but there is always more work to do.

We know people want to see more employment opportunities available in the city.

So attracting businesses, supporting innovation and creating more high-value decent jobs will continue to be a priority for us in 2021 and beyond.


The Influencers: John Bridgman

Ōtākaro Limited
Chief Executive

This month we will take a moment to remember all that Christchurch lost on February 22 a decade ago.

It’s also a natural point to consider how far we have come in that time.

Responsibility for the delivery of the Crown-led anchor projects was handed to Ōtākaro Limited in 2016.

While a significant amount of demolition and planning work had been done by that time, a lot of land sat bare.

By February 2017, though, the Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial was opened.

Construction began on the first homes in One Central a few months later and the adjoining Rauora Park opened later that year.

We’ve enjoyed the River Promenade for three summers now and Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre and the South Frame are nearing completion.

No one will tell you the process has been perfect.

Tricky ground, a strained construction sector and now a pandemic have all played a part. But the scale of what has been achieved is noteworthy.

We are on the cusp of something special with the Avon River Precinct finishing around April, Te Pae on track to open later this year and the Metro Sports Facility around a year later.

Christchurch will then be home to some of the finest facilities and public places you’ll find anywhere in the country.


The Influencers: Leeann Watson


Ngā mihi o te tau hou Happy new year! As I write my first Metropol column of 2021, I strongly believe the year ahead is full of possibility.

We have come off the back of a tumultuous year, our lives upended by Covid-19 heralding a new normal in the way we live, and the way we conduct business.

Almost overnight, there was a change in what was possible, with many shifting to remote working, virtual learning and online shopping.

There was also not the predicted economic freefall. After the initial shock, economic activity proved far stronger and more persistent than first thought.

Many key sectors fared better than expected, with the city seeing an overall spending increase of 4 percent for December 2020 to $604m compared with the same month last year.

Spending in the central city was up 9 percent to $51m for the same period. Domestic visitor spend was also up 20 percent, reaching $54m (although unable to offset the 76 percent drop in international spend).

As we leave the holiday season it is important we continue to honour the mantra of buy and support local, and embrace our uniqueness, building on existing strengths and stay willing to incorporate new approaches.

If we leverage Covid-19 as a catalyst for positive change, we can accelerate our transformation to a more productive and sustainable economy, living up to the promise of a happy and prosperous new year.


The Influencers: Lianne Dalziel

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel

This month sees the 10th anniversary of the earthquake that changed our lives and our city forever.

We will always honour the memory of the lives who were lost, and we will always ensure the lessons we have learned remain embedded within our city’s way of doing things for the future.

Our experience in the past decade has left us much better prepared for the challenges that lie ahead, and we can face the future with optimism and confidence.

At the same time, we are grateful for the opportunity reimagining our city has allowed. We know there is more to be done, but we have turned the corner.

We know a vibrant city centre is vital to the whole city’s wellbeing.

Te Papa Ōtākaro /Avon River Precinct is almost complete and has already turned our central city to face the river. It is wonderful to see so many people enjoying themselves and the natural environment that makes us so special.

I’ve been talking to many people who have visited our city for the first time in a long time. And they tell me they can see we are truly the city of the future.

For many New Zealanders returning home from overseas or shifting out of the Auckland housing market where the average house price has hit $1m, this is making us their city of choice right now.

We will build on that as more people see the opportunities that are our city’s legacy of what happened a decade ago.


The Influencers: Marian Johnson

Ministry of Awesome Chief Awesome Officer

I’m sure all of you – alongside every other person in New Zealand (and the world!) – are looking forward to a long-deserved break from the turmoil of what has been a very difficult year.

There’s no guarantee that 2021 will be easier, but the best prescription will be recovery and rest with whānau and friends.

We work with the high growth entrepreneurs at our startup hub in the centre of the city, Te Ōhaka, where 20 or so high-growth startups are building ambitious and innovative dreams.

This means is we are surrounded by optimists. And – even in this hellish of all years – it has been incredible to see how these founders have dealt with the lemons that just kept coming.

To be an entrepreneur is to be a world-class optimist. But – to be a startup founder is to be a next level optimist.

A startup founder believes that, not only have they got an idea, their idea is so good the whole world will want it.

There’s huge risk in being a startup founder and being vulnerable to the inevitable and daily twists and turns of growing a business, never mind in a global pandemic.

We are so proud of the startup founders we’ve backed this year at Te Ōhaka alongside ChristchurchNZ, Ara, Wynn Williams, and EY. All 20 startup founders here have not only successfully picked their way through the minefield of 2020, they’ve knocked the year out of the park.

Meri Kirihimete all you dreamers and stargazers of Christchurch!


The Influencers: Joanna Norris

Chief Executive

Partly, Vxt, eClean Envirotech and Medsalv. Four companies that encapsulate Ōtautahi Christchurch’s spirit of exploration – and four companies which feature in our most recent campaign highlighting how this city makes innovative ideas real.

Christchurch has long been the birthplace of innovation and technology-based start-up companies, from Tait Electronics in the 1950s to Jade in the 1990s and recent successes including Orbica and Seequent. The city’s entrepreneurial spirit has not been subdued by Covid-19.

To support Christchurch’s recovery from the economic effects of Covid-19, ChristchurchNZ is helping these entrepreneurs by giving them a leg-up in creating new start-ups and growing existing businesses here.

The storytelling in this campaign celebrates the businesses emerging in our city, and both their and Christchurch’s ingenuity, creativity, and personality.

This campaign follows on from our recent investment in Canterbury’s existing founder start-up and innovation incubators, Te Ōhaka at Ara Institute of Canterbury and ThincLab at the University of Canterbury.

We’re supporting these incubators to build the number of businesses they support and the depth of support available.

Each year at least 35 businesses will be provided the best chance of success through these partnerships.

Ultimately this work is about creating high-value jobs and ensuring our city is seen for what it is: An exciting place to live, to work and do business.

Expect to see plenty more from us here at ChristchurchNZ in 2021 as we continue to ignite bold ambition and create new and better economic opportunities for the city and its people.


The Influencers: Leeann Watson

Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive

As I write my final Metropol column of the year, the last twelve months seem to have flown by.

And what a year it has been – one that none of us could have predicted and one we certainly won’t forget in a hurry.

So I’m pleased to be able to end the year on a positive note. The latest in retail spending suggests our community is heeding the call to support local and to spend to accelerate our economic recovery.

In October, more than half a billion dollars was spent at local retailers and eateries – an increase of seven percent from the same month last year.

Spending in the central city also increased for the same period, up 12 percent to $39 million. This shows that despite Covid-19, consumer confidence is high.

I have no doubt this trend will continue over the summer, with several events coming up which will help to support our economy.

Such as the University of Canterbury graduation ceremonies currently underway, the Bread & Circus Backyard Buskers Festival in mid-January, the Council’s SummerTimes events programme, and the cricket (a personal favourite!).

Not to mention the Great Kiwi Beer Festival at the end of January, and the Nostalgia Festival in February.

I hope you get a chance to enjoy some of these events – and support our local businesses in the process.

With Christmas just around the corner, I wish you Meri Kirihimete (Merry Christmas) and a safe summer season.


The Influencers: Joanna Norris

Chief Executive

As schools and tertiaries wrap up the academic year, students are facing a very different outlook to what they ever could have imagined.

In December approximately 7000 school leavers and 10,000 tertiary graduates will complete their studies.

So what are we doing to help them?

ChristchurchNZ is not just looking at those exiting education but all groups experiencing the impacts of a tough employment market, including those in lower skilled roles, Māori and Pacific populations and those in long-term unemployment.

We are mapping support available so we can target areas most in need.

This is creating a regional resource to help people find out where and how they can get support.

We’re developing a Regional Workforce Plan to identify skills needed now and, in the future, this will inform government investment, policy and education priorities.

A recession means more people choose to study, so we are supporting Ngāi Tahu’s development of an iwi skills hub creating pathways for young Māori into tertiary education and skilled jobs.

From a business perspective, we’re investing in our city’s innovation ecosystem to support start-ups (expect lots more on this to come soon) and working to attract additional businesses and jobs to our region.

Despite the uncertainty, there are many green shoots and opportunities.

It may require a different approach, particularly for our rangatahi looking to forge careers in a radically different environment, but we have bold ambitions for our city, a resilient population and we are dead set on supporting those impacted by the recession into sustainable, future-focused jobs.


The Influencers: Peter Townsend

Te Papa Hauora Advisory Council
Independent Chair

Too often in Christchurch and Canterbury we underestimate our performance and influence, as a city and a region.

We also have a tendency to understate our achievements. I think this comes from the natural conservatism of our people.

When you get outside Christchurch and look back in, it’s easy to gain an appreciation of all the good things
we have going for us.

Being conservative is not a bad thing, but there are times when a community needs to stand up and openly celebrate its place in
the world.

That time is now for greater Christchurch. We are poised on the edge of being recognised as a city of choice in New Zealand.

A special place where people choose to come to live because of what we have to offer.

Our high performing health sector is a vital ingredient in that mix of attributes. An important component of our health offerings is Te Papa Hauora Health Precinct.

Te Papa Hauora is unique.

Nowhere else in Aotearoa is there such strong collaboration between health providers, educators, researchers and commercial players in health.

The physical presence of the major players, juxtaposed to our main hospital and various health support services, gives us an opportunity to explore and share exciting new ways of doing things in health.

That is critical in our rapidly changing environment. We are just at the beginning of realising the potential of Te Papa Hauora.

It is something we can build on, take pride in, and celebrate now and into the future.


The Influencers: John Bridgman

Ōtākaro Limited
Chief Executive

On St Asaph Street, outside the Metro Sports Facility site, we now have work underway to install New Zealand’s first Wastewater Heat Recovery System.

Showers, sinks, dishwashers, washing machines and even toilets all result in hot water going down the drain.

This lifts the temperature of the major wastewater pipe running down St Asaph Street to a useful 17°C. With this system we will be able to capture and recycle this otherwise wasted energy to help heat the pools and building.

Part of the St Asaph Street wastewater pipe flow will be redirected into a building in the Metro Sports Facility’s car park.

The sewage will be “screened” to filter unwanted material and enable the flow to pass through a heat exchanger.

By using an exchanger, fresh warm water can be supplied to the Facility’s heat pumps while ensuring there is no contact between the sewage and the pools.

This waste heat recovery project will provide significant benefits to the Christchurch community by re-using waste heat energy that has already been paid for to produce approximately 3500kW of energy per annum for heating at the Metro Sports Facility, which is the equivalent of powering up to 2000 homes per day.

This will result in a saving of around $100,000 a year compared to groundwater sourced heating and help lower greenhouse gas emissions.