Cultural Recovery
Whakaara Tikanga

Cultural activities, including sport, art, recreation, and enjoyment of heritage, attract residents and visitors.

The cultural recovery of greater Christchurch is centrally important to supporting a thriving and liveable city.


Cultural activities involving sports, arts, recreation and expression of culture, history and heritage, are integral to life in greater Christchurch and our identity as a region.

The cultural sector makes an important contribution to social wellbeing, community development, health outcomes and also to the region’s economic prosperity. The loss of facilities, jobs and volunteers in the cultural sector threatens the continued existence of the many clubs, groups and societies that bind communities together.

Greater Christchurch has lost much of the heritage that was one of its defining characteristics. Buildings that have been lost were key pieces of Christchurch and New Zealand history and identity. Retention and conservation of restorable heritage buildings, places, archaeological sites and places of cultural significance to Ngāi Tahu, will help recreate that distinctive sense of place and identity that has defined the region and contributed to its economic development. So too will restoration of access to heritage collections.

Cultural activities are an integral part of life in greater Christchurch and of our identity as a region. There are opportunities within the recovery process for all partners to work together to map community needs and, where appropriate, consider multi-function facilities.

Cultural recovery goals

Renew greater Christchurch’s unique identity and its vitality expressed through sport, recreation, art, history, heritage and traditions, by:

  1. acknowledging and celebrating the rich and diverse Ngāi Tahu, colonial and other heritages and connections;
  2. resuming cultural, community and sports events and activities;
  3. encouraging participation in a range of entertainment, cultural, recreational and sporting activities;
  4. restoring historic buildings, where feasible, for the benefit of the community; and
  5. acknowledging losses and creating spaces to remember, while embracing necessary changes to the city’s character and urban form.

What’s happening?

Cultural recovery is underway to repair and rebuild facilities and events and restore participation in activities. The Ministry for Culture and Heritage is leading work in partnership with sports and arts agencies within three key programmes:

Sport and Recreation Programme focuses on places and spaces for sport and recreation and people involved in sport and recreation.

Arts, Culture and Heritage Recovery Programme for greater Christchurch

  • restore and extend broad participation in arts and cultural activities, and with heritage collections in greater Christchurch
  • recover infrastructure and enhance the way arts, culture and heritage collections contribute to the reinvigoration of greater Christchurch for present and future generations
  • commemorate the people lost as a result of the earthquakes and recognise the effects of the earthquakes on the wider community.

Heritage Buildings and Places Recovery Programme for greater Christchurch aims to achieve the appropriate balance between:

  • retaining heritage buildings and places as an important part of greater Christchurch’s identity
  • the need for the wider earthquake recovery to proceed quickly and within available resources.

Who’s involved?

The programmes represent a coordinated approach by strategic partners and the following government and local agencies:

ICOMOS New Zealand Charter provides useful guidance on cultural heritage conservation, produced by ICOMOS New Zealand.

QuakeStories is a place to share your stories of the quakes, how they affected you - wherever you live, the aftermath and the ongoing story of the rebuilding.