Update from Roger Sutton, Chief Executive: 26 March 2012

Release Date: 26 March 2012

Mr Roger Sutton. Last year I suggested recovery would rely on play as much as work and while we needed new recreational and cultural facilities, the passion to run these had survived and thrived.

Community volunteers and entrepreneurs had in numerous cases become more close-knit and determined, I noted, whether or not their venues had survived. Many I chatted with after the earthquakes were determined to retain and enhance the rich sporting and social life which combines with economic development to make up the life-blood of Canterbury.

So it’s great to celebrate milestones like Christchurch Stadium’s opening on Saturday for the Crusaders-Cheetahs game. It’s the first and largest sports venue in the city following the ‘quakes and let’s remember; construction began only on 20 December. It has been built in less than 100 days, helped by recycled components - four stadium lights up from Dunedin’s Carisbrook; food and beverage outlets, temporary seating and toilet blocks down from Eden Park; and even turf from Christchurch’s AMI Stadium. The new “multi-purpose venue”, with seating capacity of 18,000, can be up-sized to 25,000 for international sporting fixtures including rugby league and soccer. It can cater for concerts and other community events.

In recent weeks also, leisure choices have grown while the CBD cordon has decreased, with Christchurch’s iconic Alice in Videoland, fully tenanted and attracting bumper crowds. The High Street shop is the second central city business to reopen after Ballantynes and is expanding with a 39 luxury-seat, boutique theatre.

Local, creative innovators who work hard to enrich our playtime are making significant contributions to the region’s recovery. We’ve heard recently how Grant Ryan’s YikeBike firm has ramped up production, cutting delivery of the fun, fold-up, electric vehicles from eight weeks to two, due to overseas demand. Mt Pleasant’s Bill Geradts’ Beyond Reality Media released its first comic-book online in July 2011, now has a Hollywood agent pitching its stories, and is producing more internet and hard-copy comic-books than anyone else in New Zealand.

Worth mentioning too are recent Gap Filler projects – an outdoor “pop-up” cinema behind the Madras and St Asaph street intersection and “Dance-o-Mat”; a dance floor at the St Asaph and Manchester streets corner; with coin-operated lighting and sound courtesy of a converted washing machine. Gap Filler’s quirky ventures may be temporary but, together with Cashel Mall’s Re:Start and Alice in Videoland, they provide a taste of what local visionaries may have in store in the rebuild of an exciting, inviting new city centre.

Roger Sutton
Chief Executive
CanterburyEarthquake Recovery Authority