Statement from Mayor regarding future of Victoria Square
The Mayor of Christchurch supports a wider public consultation around the future of Victoria Square to encourage those with an interest to share their memories and to discuss their aspirations for the space.
“Victoria Square is one of the few relatively undamaged parts of the central city since the earthquakes and it is important to recognise the significance of this space as part of people’s memories and their sense of identity,” says Lianne Dalziel.
“Many people in Christchurch are stressed and exhausted and it is important that we don’t add to that by removing places they love without having a public conversation about the changes.”
The Mayor acknowledges that Council staff have been working with Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU) and Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu on the Victoria Square design.
“A great deal of thought and work has already gone into the proposed redesign of Victoria Square and the greater Avon River Precinct, recognising that this is a place of significance for Ngai Tahu and Europeans alike.”
Prior to the arrival of Europeans the site of Victoria Square was part of a larger mahinga kai site close to the Puari Pa. The square was originally known as Market Place and was the main point of contact between local Maori and the new arrivals.
Market Place was the economic centre of early Christchurch and the first post office, the police station and first ’lock-up’ for criminals, immigration barracks, a market hall and the first bridge over the Avon River, were all sited on or adjacent to the square.
“It is important that both of these histories are visible and acknowledged in one of the most important public spaces in Christchurch,” says Lianne Dalziel.
“This would be a great opportunity for Christchurch to have a public conversation about the future of Victoria Square. I think people will be very excited by some of the ideas that have been discussed, and equally it would give the designers an opportunity to hear from the public about their aspirations for the space.”
While Councillors have been briefed on the project they had so far had limited opportunity to influence the plans and were now looking for an opportunity to have a deeper discussion with CCDU, the community and Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu.
The three partners in the Avon River Precinct project, CERA, the Council and Ngai Tahu will be having a workshop in early November to discuss the opportunities for Victoria Square.
The Mayor will not be making any further comment until after the workshop has taken place.
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 *Mahinga Kai properly refers to Ngāi Tahu interests in traditional food and other natural resources and the places where those resources are obtained.