Eyes East Episode 1 Part 1

24 Sep 2015
In the first part of Episode 1 we explore the impact of the earthquakes on the flatland suburbs of east Christchurch: the damage to housing, infrastructure, business, environment and amenities. We then look at the impacts on households and communities of the decision to red zone large tracts of land in the east. 
Eyes East is a weekly 7-part television series that explores community values and ideas for the recovery of the flat land suburbs of east Christchurch that were so devastated by the 2010/11 earthquakes and provides an opportunity for viewers to provide feedback. It is a collaboration of Eastern Vision, Rebuild Christchurch and CTV.

Perspective piece for Eyes East Episode 1 by Evan Smith

Mapping the changing landscape in the east.

Few would argue that the eastern suburbs of Christchurch haven’t had a really tough time over the last five years. 

Thousands of households have been forced to move and their houses demolished, many more have endured major disruptions or still have unresolved claims, roads remain in an appalling sate if they are open at all, recreation facilities and business districts are decimated, schools are closed or merged, and the Avon corridor is still an eyesore.  And on top of that many now have to come to terms with flood risk, sea level rise and coastal erosion.

Yet despite this, the communities of the eastern flatlands remain vibrant, supportive and full of spirit, albeit infused with a healthy dollop of cynicism.  Who can blame us: too often the powers that be have appeared to ignore our plight or imposed outcomes from outside, and there are still very few signs of recovery out east.

There are those that say we should just simply right off the east and migrate west, for many that is not an affordable option, many others wouldn’t live anywhere else but east and view it as the place to be in the future, unparalleled in its potential and stunning natural assets. 

Whatever your view, it is irrefutable that unless the east is healed and healthy then greater Christchurch will not be healed and healthy – like it or not, we all have an interest in the recovery of the eastern suburbs.  Remember the reason there is so much being invested in the underground infrastructure of the east is because it carries the wastewater from the whole city to the treatment works.

The built landscape is changing in the east – old red-zoned suburbs have disappeared, new subdivisions are emerging. 

The environmental landscape is shifting with large tracts of red zone land now cleared and grassed in the interim – many would like this greening to extend into the restoration of native ecosystems throughout the length of the Avon river corridor.  This was very apparent from the popularity of proposals promoting this on Eastern Vision’s EVO::SPACE consultation in 2014.

The cultural landscape is also changing.  Many now have a much better understanding of the meaning of tÅ«rangawaewae, the place where we feel especially empowered and connected: our home.  There is a new interest in the cultural heritage – both pre- and post-European - of the lands we live on. 

It is critical that there is a shared vision for the future of the east that we all can live with, that is agreed by the communities of Christchurch, and the myriad agencies with a role in the recovery.  This will only happen if we are all fully involved in creating the vision and in the decision-making processes required to implement it.

The landscape – physical, social, cultural and economic – is changing rapidly in the east and it is important that we understand and map these changes so we can start mapping out what the future landscapes might look like.  Eastern Vision started this process last year with its EVO::SPACE consultation and the publication of a map of community aspirations derived from three and a half thousand responses.

It is to extend these processes to a wider audience that Eastern Vision, CTV and Rebuild Christchurch have collaborated to produce the Eyes East TV series and the revamped EVO::SPACE website.  Please take the time to watch the series and participate in the discussions.


Eyes East screens 8:30pm Thursday on CTV with repeats 1pm Friday and 6:30pm Sunday and on-demand atwww.rebuildchristchurch.co.nz/videos/eyes-east . Feedback on the ideas featured in each episode can be given on evospace.co.nz.