Thank you Sam for that very generous introduction. And thank you everyone for coming today, to join me, in what I hope, is the beginning of a new chapter and a new conversation for Christchurch. It was important to have Sam here to do the introduction, because it was he who did the very same for me back in July 2013, when I decided to stand for Council. In many respects our journey post-earthquake has been similar. We both got involved to help out, our paths crossed at the SVA and then Volunteer Army Foundation and we’ve both continued our work in various guises.
So what brings me here today? It’s quite simple really. I believe we have lost our focus, lost our way and lost any sense of direction. The Blueprint, which has dictated much of our city’s new shape, is five years old, on Sunday to be exact, and it has not been reviewed in that time. Treasury has reviewed individual projects, such as the Convention centre, but the overall vision has not been looked at. What was the objective? Why reshape the city and engage in the largest compulsory acquisition process in modern times? Who is measuring the outcomes and do they still hold up. Who is holding the vision and who is leading it? I would say no one. When John Key stepped down at the end of last year, I really felt we had lost the one person who at least could appreciate the big picture and understood the strategic imperative for a successful recovery of Christchurch.
That’s why I am standing. I believe the city needs someone who can bridge the gap between local and central government, and it is a big gap, and talk to Wellington in a language they understand, and make the case for Christchurch. I am someone who understands how Wellington works, who can work with both officials and across party lines to get results for Christchurch.
Christchurch matters. Our country, one nation, two islands is suffering from a lack of balance, as resources and people are sucked into Auckland, to the detriment of the rest of the country. Geographically we are blessed with a huge coastline, vast marine resources and, outside of Auckland, a low population density. The country needs rebalancing and a broader and deeper economy. The opportunity for Christchurch is not just to recover and rebuild but to become the clear second city of NZ, the capital of the South Island and the anchor of the mainland economy. We have a top class international airport and port, with direct flights to Singapore, Hong Kong and China. We could and should have more. Yet the focus is squarely on building Auckland as the entry point to NZ. That’s causing huge infrastructure problems for Auckland. We can address that. We have new infrastructure, an oversupply of commercial space, we will have a new range of brand new community facilities and our housing and generally affordable housing as well. This narrative needs to be pushed harder and more explicitly.
And that’s why the loss of focus is a problem for this city. With a half built city, and no clear end point, it’s a hard story to tell. But we must. Christchurch cannot be allowed to fail.
We’ve been drifting along for the last 6 months, and that’s why strongly I believe we need new leadership, a new direction and a new destination. And that’s why today, I am announcing the launch of a new plan for Christchurch, ChCh2026.
Christchurch2026 provides a vision for the city, funding to achieve it, a destination point, and an ambitious goal. We need hope that there is an end point to this and a clear pathway to get there.
My vision for the city is for Christchurch to be a place of Health and Well Being. To me that is the real destination, a city that supports its citizens to be healthy and well, otherwise what’s the point? We can do that by having great facilities, basic and social infrastructure, a safe city, and a city that is invested in its people. The city now is half-baked, and the job is only half done. We cannot afford to not finish the job. And so as part of Chch2026, I will be proposing a $1b Investment Fund for Christchurch.
This fund will be split into four parts, all which I believe are key to the full restoration of the city:
$400m for a Central City Housing Fund: this is to actually build homes! The East frame has been clear felled. We don’t have time to wait around for developers to decide whether it’s a good time to build. We will build them, and we will work with builders, developers, architects, and designers, to create vibrant neighborhoods, not great blocks of investments. We will be building homes not investment vehicles. The government will fund and own these homes, and initially rent them out, and if people want to buy them, they can be helped to do that. And if they are sold, the government will retain a right to capture a proportion of any uplift in value, if they are on sold. We want to build communities, not investment products. We will look at different ownership structures, building styles: co-housing, cooperatives, passive houses, and wiki houses. Christchurch should be a laboratory for new affordable inner city housing. This fund will recycle as many times as needed, and eventually return to the government to hopefully be deployed elsewhere. This is a major investment in housing for our city.
$300m for a Red Zone Redevelopment Fund: This is an incredible opportunity for this city. The loss of home that so many people suffered needs to be replaced by something of value, something that sits appropriately within the wonderful environment. There is a huge amount of planning that is underway and some wonderful projects already sketched out in some detail. But there is no funding! We cannot afford to wait around for years, whilst people pour their time and energy into projects, which could take years to even be considered. Lets do it right and get the funding up front and then get underway with some of the clearly agreed projects.
$200m towards the Multi-Purpose Arena. The Great Hope of Christchurch, the covered stadium, now known as the MPA. Here’s a stark lesson. Auckland. November 2006. Trevor Mallard, the Minister for the Rugby World Cup, indicated the government’s preference was for a waterfront stadium in Auckland, at the bargain cost of $497m. We know what a missed opportunity that was. So let me make my position clear on the MPA: do it properly. Do it once and do it now.
The final piece of this fund is $100m for City Revitalization projects. These projects, like the Cashmere Adventure Park, will provide the city with the lift it needs to attract new residents, new visitors, new businesses and to support our people. I have 5 projects to suggest:
• A Marine and Coastal Research Centre and Aquarium, to go out in New Brighton.
• An Indoor Velodrome to go on the Lancaster Park site.
• A National Sports Museum.
• A Centre for Science and Innovation.
• An Epic Centre for Youth.
These are just some of the projects that will take Christchurch to the next level as a city and will help to counterbalance the weight that Auckland is having on the rest of the country. We have two islands and we should have two major cities. But that’s not all.
I think we also need to be ambitious, ambitious about the probable but also the possible. We need some thing to aim for, something to dream about, and for that reason, I’m proposing that we make a bid for the 2026 Commonwealth Games. 52 years after the 1974 Friendly Games, 15 years after our major earthquakes, it will be time to showcase our city and show the world what we have achieved.
It can be shaped our way, with Christchurch as the host city, but with the games spread throughout Canterbury and even the South Island. It will be an incredible opportunity to market our city and our region, to tell the story of both the past and the future and to make use of and boost our Commonwealth network. We are building everything we need and we time to prepare. This will be the icing on the cake, a lofty goal to give us something to really focus on and be excited about.
The vision, the funding, and the ambition will give us the hope that there is a clear destination and a story we can tell. All we need is the commitment from the next government to finish the job. And why should they you may ask?
Well, remember, the government imposed the Blueprint and the Residential Redzone clearance. They reshaped our city and made all these promises to us. We, as a city, have to deal with the consequences of those actions. The job is not done. A little more investment and I we can get there. This plan will finish the job. This plan is very affordable. This plan will deliver us a city to be proud of. Can the government afford this? Yes, it can. It works out to $125m a year over 8 years, easily funded from the forecast fiscal surpluses. It’s only another 10% on top of what the government has already, supposedly invested into Christchurch. I’d actually ask whether the government afford not to make this investment?
In summary, I’m asking the people of Ilam to support this plan, to send me to Wellington to kick the shins of the next government and make sure they finish the job. This is a tight election and one vote could play a big part. Ilam has probably been the least affected electorate in the city but is heavily invested in the successful outcome of the full restoration of the city. As an Independent I can advocate for our city, without fear or favour. I believe I can have an impact in Wellington. I understand how central government works and I believe I can convince the next government of the strategic and economic imperative of making the right decisions about their Christchurch investment and how to deliver it. This needs to be done. We need ChCh2026. We need some certainty and we need some hope.
And that’s why I’m standing up for Christchurch and I’m asking the people of Ilam to stand up for Christchurch too, and support me in sending a strong message to the next government to finish the job.