Looking back to the future - River of Flowers 2016

Posted 17 Feb 2016 by AvonOtakaro Featured Popular

It starts with a low rumble that accelerates rapidly to shake us out of business as usual, but how many are listening or want to know anymore?


We may have answers to some of these questions next Monday.


22 February 2016, five years after the big one in 2011, many will return to join their old communities at riverside commemorations to reflect on what was, what in many cases still is, and what could be…


The riverside where Medway Street meets River Road is one such River of Flowers site – the place where the iconic footbridge sat in all its contortions of twisted metal.


At the first anniversary in 2012, the 3 metre high multi-coloured cross, symbol of the diverse burdens experienced by the mule-coloured zoning decisions, was bound to the munted Medway Street bridge and became the centrepiece backdrop of that year’s commemoration.


Those of us organising  the event were not quite quick enough in taking the cross down that year and sometime during the course of the evening it was untethered from the bridge and cast into the river by persons unknown.


We searched the river bed but found no sign of it.  We thought that was the end of the matter – 22 February was the first day of Lent in 2012.


However a little over six weeks later on Easter Sunday, the cross washed up on Southshore beach and was recognised by local resident Bernie Calder who returned it to us.  It has featured in River of Flowers commemorations at Medway Street ever since.


Rev. Mike Coleman who created the cross said after its return in 2012, “the river has been blessed – it needs to be a park now mate!”


Avon-Ōtākaro Network (AvON) has been advocating for such a city-to-sea river park in the Avon River-Ōtākaro red zone since mid-2011. 


The network collaborates with Healthy Christchurch and Flourish Inc. to coordinate 20 community River of Flowers commemorations alongside the waterways throughout greater Christchurch. 


Each site is unique – several have lone pipers who play Amazing Grace after the two minutes silence at 12:51pm. 


Each year the site at South New Brighton near the jetty has young Tama from Aranui piping for them – he is now a much-loved integral part of that event.


River of Flowers coordinator Michelle Whitaker explains, “It’s a time to reflect on those who lost their lives, were injured or lost their home and communities.  And it’s a time to look with hope to the future.”


“Being the fifth anniversary, and following our shake-up call on Sunday, we expect this year’s River of Flowers to be big,” says Evan Smith Co-Chair of AvON and site host for Medway Street.


“We are expecting over 250 local primary and intermediate students to participate at Medway Street this year, singing waiata and performing haka.  While a couple of kilometres upstream 800 students from Avonside Girls will be lining both banks outside the school for their commemoration.


“It has a lot of meaning for both present and previous residents of the area, ” says Smith.


A complementary event, Bloom, is taking place at Canterbury Museum throughout the month of February.


Here is the full list of River of Flowers sites (or go to:  www.flourish.org.nz/river-of-flowers.html):


CHCH Botanic Gardens
CCC Commemoration Archery Lawn, 12 noon

River of Flowers follows at 1pm

Foot bridge between Hospital and Peace Bell
Host: Flourish Inc & All Right? Wellbeing Campaign
Riccarton Bush
River Bank Between Kahu Road and Riccarton House
Host: Rebuild Christchurch
Wheelchair accessible 


Places of Tranquillity

Over the river from Margaret Mahy Playground

Corner of Manchester St and Cambridge Tce

Host: Community


O-Tautahi /The Bricks
Barbadoes Street bridge and diagonal adjoining riverbanks
Host: Avon Loop Planning Association and Te Runaka ki Otautahi o Kai Tahu 
Wheelchair access on bridge

Afternoon tea following at Avon Loop Community Cottage, 28 Hurley Street. The wheelchair access at the Cottage is limited (toilet not accessible and small step at front door).

St Albans
Host: SARA
St Albans Creek, ASB Park
Community Soccer game to follow

Dallington bank at Kerrs Reach opposite boatsheds
Host: Dallington Residents Association
W/C Access very limited


Medway Street Junction

South West bank on River Road
Host: Avon Otakaro Network
Not suitable for Wheelchairs or folk with impaired mobility

Community BBQ provided

Pre-Service at Methodist Church opposite Porritt Park 12.50 – 1.45

Host: Wainoni Avonside Community Services Trust
W/C access  / Toilets

Avonside Girls High School

Over the road from Avonside Girls High School

Host: Avonside Girls High, Public welcome to join the school on either bank

Corner of Retreat Rd and Avonside Drive (Gayhurst end of Retreat)
Host: Greening the Red Zone


Wainoni Road Bridge, New Brighton side of riverbank
Host: Community & Public Health and Wainoni Primary
W/C Access very limited

Burwood / Avondale
South West riverbank next to Avondale Bridge
Host: Burwood Christian Centre, Avondale Residents Assoc. and Burwood Community Leaders

Beckenham Park

By Cricket Pavilion then to the riverbank
Host: Beckenham School & Beckenham Neighbourhood Assoc.
Wheelchair accessible

PMH Heathcote River
Opposite Princess Margaret Hospital
Host: Canterbury District Health Board
Limited wheelchair access on River bank

Moncks Bay
Yacht Club Car Park, Moncks Bay
Host:  Christchurch Yacht Club
Wheelchair access
Followed with Afternoon Tea

New Brighton
Owles Terrace Reserve.
Bexley meet on opposite side of river
Host: S.U.R.F. Community Trust

South New Brighton
End of Estuary Road on the estuary bank
Host: Te Waka Aroha
Woolston Radley Park
Radley Park near the south end of the Catherine Street footbridge
Hosted by: Woolston Residents
Wheelchair accessible. 

River Liffey, next to Footbridge
Host: Lincoln Community Care


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