In March 2012 Avon-Ōtākaro Network (AvON) presented a petition to Parliament with over eighteen thousand signatures.
This was followed in May 2012 by a written submission and a deputation before the Select Committee.
The petition asked that the House of Representatives “work with the people and local authorities of Christchurch to ensure that the Avon River red zone becomes a reserve and river park when the home owners have to leave.”
The vision of AvON to turn the Ōtākaro residential red zone lands into an ecological reserve and multi-purpose river park remains hugely popular as revealed in the recently completed EVO::SPACE community consultation of Eastern Vision.
Now, almost 3 years after receiving the petition, the Local Government & Environment Select Committee has reported its recommendation back to the House.
The Select Committee simply notes the progress with the Avon River Precinct in the central city CBD and CERA’s intention to consult with the community on the future of red-zoned lands.
AvON sees the Avon River Precinct work as a good start, however the network’s focus remains the creation of a river park that extends beyond Fitzgerald Avenue throughout the full length of the lower Avon residential red zone from city to sea.
While AvON applauds the intention of government to consult with the public on future uses of the Avon River red zone, it should be noted that the reference in the report to CERA having already canvassed the public refers only to the Waimakariri red zone not the Christchurch red zones.
“We look forward to continuing to work with central and local government authorities to realise our vision,” says Mark Gibson, Co-Chair of AvON.
“We are willing to engage with anyone with an interest in the development of the lower Ōtākaro residential red zone to support the wellbeing of the environment and communities of the east and greater Christchurch.”
“These are the lands and waterways that we feel are the most vulnerable when red zone decisions are being made, and should be recognized for the taonga that they are in their own right,” says Teoti Jardine from the AvON Steering Group.
“These were the mahika kai areas of the Tupuna of Otautahi, and should receive the attention they rightfully deserve.”
AvON supporter Peggy Kelly spent considerable efforts binding the pages of the petition into two beautifully presented volumes.
However she is “dismayed” by the Select Committee report which she feels has not done justice to her hope expressed in 2012 that “someone from our House of Representatives will turn the pages and from their egg stains and rain marks read between the lines and find the love and longing that lies there and persuade their colleagues to persuade their colleagues to grant the petitioners’ request – and then some more”.
For further information, contact:
Mark Gibson (Co-Chair, Avon-Otakaro Network) ph 021 215 5450, email email@example.com
Evan Smith (Co-Chair, Avon-Otakaro Network) ph 029 739 9796, email Evan.Smith@vodafone.co.nz
Teoti Jardine (AvON Steering Group) ph 027 714 0901, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Peggy Kelly (AvON supporter) ph 03 366 3844, email email@example.com
Notes for editors
AvON is a not-for-profit group. Our aim is “to establish a community-driven, science-informed living memorial to rejuvenate and nurture the long-term environmental, economic, community and spiritual wellbeing of the eastern suburbs and greater Christchurch. We aim to create a place of hope and inspiration for the people of Christchurch by restoring health and vitality to our river and its lands.”
The Report of the Local Government & Environment Select Committee published on Friday 5 December can be viewed here: http://www.parliament.nz/resource/en-nz/51DBSCH_SCR61931_1/8a59f2be4f57a9e6b537f40f92a10220af37e57e