Draft OARC Regeneration Plan - 1: The Plan in context

The river and surrounding land have played many roles in the history of Ōtautahi/Christchurch. Creating a plan for the future starts with understanding these stories of the past.

Ngāi Tahu history

The Ōtākaro/Avon River and surrounding area have a long and vibrant cultural history. Ngāi Tahu – and Ngāti Māmoe and Waitaha before them – had permanent and temporary kāinga and pā in the greater Christchurch area. The Ōtākaro/Avon River and Ihutai/Avon Heathcote Estuary are of vital importance to manawhenua, who prized the abundant food and natural resources that could be harvested from the springs, waterways, wetlands, grasslands and lowland podocarp forests that flourished in this area.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu is statutorily recognised as the representative tribal body of Ngāi Tahu whānui under the Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Act 1996. Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu has a responsibility to ensure the wellbeing of all those who live in its takiwā in accordance with the tikanga of manaakitanga.

Te Ngāi Tūāhuriri is identified in the Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu (Declaration of Membership) Order 2001 as the entity with responsibility for resources and protection of tribal interests within the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor Regeneration Area. Therefore, Ngāi Tūāhuriri is the rūnanga holding manawhenua or authority over the Regeneration Area.

Te Ihutai Ahu Whenua Trust is established in accordance with Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993 to administer lands covered by the Ngāi Tahu Deed of Settlement, incorporating Ihutai Reserve (MR900), which has a ki uta ki tai relationship with the lands to be governed by the Regeneration Plan.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Te Ngāi Tūāhuriri and Te Ihutai Ahu Whenua Trust have an expectation that those representing Crown interests will honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi (the Treaty) and the principles on which the Treaty is founded, in particular the Treaty principles of rangatiratanga, partnership, active participation in decision-making, and active protection.

A map showing the culturally significant Maori sites within the Regeneration Area

ŌRUAPAEROA Travis Wetlands was a traditional kāinga (settlement), which included the wetlands surrounding the Ōtākaro/Avon and Ōpāwaho/Heathcote rivers. These wetlands supported an abundance of native fish and birdlife, and the site was an important mahinga kai nohoanga (seasonal food landing).

WAIKĀKĀRIKI/Horseshoe Lake was the site of a significant settlement called Te Oranga. A tributary to the Ōtākaro, Waikākāriki was rich in wildlife and natural resources and was a significant site for mahinga kai.

ŌTĀKARO Avon River was highly regarded by Waitaha, Ngāti Māmoe and Ngāi Tahu as a site for mahinga kai. Instead of settling along the Ōtākaro/Avon River, people generally visited seasonally to gather and preserve food that could be eaten during the colder months.

TAUTAHI The Bricks was named after the chief from whom Ōtautahi/Christchurch takes its name. Tautahi Pā was settled by an estimated 800 early Waitaha people during the years between 1000 and 1500. Its close proximity to the Ōtākaro/Avon River and the ability to gather food and natural resources would have supported the settlement.

TE KAI A TE KARORO South New Brighton: The mouth of the Ōtākaro/Avon River was an important site for mahinga kai, where freshwater meets the saline water of the estuary. The pā site is located at present-day South New Brighton Park and was associated with extensive middens.

TE IHUTAI Avon Heathcote Estuary was a significant fishery renowned for its diverse variety of fish, shellfish and birds. Several kāinga nohoanga (seasonal settlements) were located nearby.


European settlement

In 1851 the city of Christchurch was founded on the banks of the Ōtākaro/Avon River in recognition of its role as a water source and transportation route. As Christchurch expanded, the river became a backdrop for people’s homes, and neighbourhoods established along its banks.

Surrounding communities

East Christchurch is comprised of distinctive communities drawing their identity from their connection to the river, parks, estuary and sea that surrounds them.
Each community has its own unique culture, history and values and residents remain committed to their lifestyle and sense of place. Many generations of residents have developed strong connections with this area and have enjoyed a good quality of life there.

2010 and 2011 earthquakes

The Canterbury earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 caused unprecedented and widespread damage to greater Christchurch.

The land within the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor primarily consists of poorly consolidated silts, which were particularly susceptible to the effects of earthquakes. As a result, the homes and infrastructure in this area were disproportionately affected.

The scale and extent of land damage left large tracts of residential land requiring area-wide remediation. In response, the Crown announced a process that identified a residential red zone. In August 2011, the Government made offers to purchase insured residential red zone properties and by December 2015, 5,442 property owners within the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor had accepted the Crown offer.

As previously vibrant residential neighbourhoods were deconstructed and replaced by open parkland, remaining communities were faced with depopulation, loss of community connections and facilities, and uncertainty regarding the future of this land.

This draft Regeneration Plan creates an aspirational Vision that provides opportunities for multiple uses within a predominantly natural environment and a framework to make this Vision a reality.

Old photo of boys fishing in the Otakaro Avon River


The geographical context

The Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor comprises 602 hectares of land and waterways including the Ōtākaro/Avon River located between central Christchurch city and the Ihutai/Avon Heathcote Estuary.

Aerial image showing the Regeneration Area in the context of Greater Christchurch

The river and surrounding land have played many roles in the history of Ōtautahi/Christchurch. Creating a plan for the future starts with understanding these stories of the past.

Ngāi Tahu history

The Ōtākaro/Avon River and surrounding area have a long and vibrant cultural history. Ngāi Tahu – and Ngāti Māmoe and Waitaha before them – had permanent and temporary kāinga and pā in the greater Christchurch area. The Ōtākaro/Avon River and Ihutai/Avon Heathcote Estuary are of vital importance to manawhenua, who prized the abundant food and natural resources that could be harvested from the springs, waterways, wetlands, grasslands and lowland podocarp forests that flourished in this area.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu is statutorily recognised as the representative tribal body of Ngāi Tahu whānui under the Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Act 1996. Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu has a responsibility to ensure the wellbeing of all those who live in its takiwā in accordance with the tikanga of manaakitanga.

Te Ngāi Tūāhuriri is identified in the Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu (Declaration of Membership) Order 2001 as the entity with responsibility for resources and protection of tribal interests within the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor Regeneration Area. Therefore, Ngāi Tūāhuriri is the rūnanga holding manawhenua or authority over the Regeneration Area.

Te Ihutai Ahu Whenua Trust is established in accordance with Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993 to administer lands covered by the Ngāi Tahu Deed of Settlement, incorporating Ihutai Reserve (MR900), which has a ki uta ki tai relationship with the lands to be governed by the Regeneration Plan.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Te Ngāi Tūāhuriri and Te Ihutai Ahu Whenua Trust have an expectation that those representing Crown interests will honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi (the Treaty) and the principles on which the Treaty is founded, in particular the Treaty principles of rangatiratanga, partnership, active participation in decision-making, and active protection.

A map showing the culturally significant Maori sites within the Regeneration Area

ŌRUAPAEROA Travis Wetlands was a traditional kāinga (settlement), which included the wetlands surrounding the Ōtākaro/Avon and Ōpāwaho/Heathcote rivers. These wetlands supported an abundance of native fish and birdlife, and the site was an important mahinga kai nohoanga (seasonal food landing).

WAIKĀKĀRIKI/Horseshoe Lake was the site of a significant settlement called Te Oranga. A tributary to the Ōtākaro, Waikākāriki was rich in wildlife and natural resources and was a significant site for mahinga kai.

ŌTĀKARO Avon River was highly regarded by Waitaha, Ngāti Māmoe and Ngāi Tahu as a site for mahinga kai. Instead of settling along the Ōtākaro/Avon River, people generally visited seasonally to gather and preserve food that could be eaten during the colder months.

TAUTAHI The Bricks was named after the chief from whom Ōtautahi/Christchurch takes its name. Tautahi Pā was settled by an estimated 800 early Waitaha people during the years between 1000 and 1500. Its close proximity to the Ōtākaro/Avon River and the ability to gather food and natural resources would have supported the settlement.

TE KAI A TE KARORO South New Brighton: The mouth of the Ōtākaro/Avon River was an important site for mahinga kai, where freshwater meets the saline water of the estuary. The pā site is located at present-day South New Brighton Park and was associated with extensive middens.

TE IHUTAI Avon Heathcote Estuary was a significant fishery renowned for its diverse variety of fish, shellfish and birds. Several kāinga nohoanga (seasonal settlements) were located nearby.


European settlement

In 1851 the city of Christchurch was founded on the banks of the Ōtākaro/Avon River in recognition of its role as a water source and transportation route. As Christchurch expanded, the river became a backdrop for people’s homes, and neighbourhoods established along its banks.

Surrounding communities

East Christchurch is comprised of distinctive communities drawing their identity from their connection to the river, parks, estuary and sea that surrounds them.
Each community has its own unique culture, history and values and residents remain committed to their lifestyle and sense of place. Many generations of residents have developed strong connections with this area and have enjoyed a good quality of life there.

2010 and 2011 earthquakes

The Canterbury earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 caused unprecedented and widespread damage to greater Christchurch.

The land within the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor primarily consists of poorly consolidated silts, which were particularly susceptible to the effects of earthquakes. As a result, the homes and infrastructure in this area were disproportionately affected.

The scale and extent of land damage left large tracts of residential land requiring area-wide remediation. In response, the Crown announced a process that identified a residential red zone. In August 2011, the Government made offers to purchase insured residential red zone properties and by December 2015, 5,442 property owners within the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor had accepted the Crown offer.

As previously vibrant residential neighbourhoods were deconstructed and replaced by open parkland, remaining communities were faced with depopulation, loss of community connections and facilities, and uncertainty regarding the future of this land.

This draft Regeneration Plan creates an aspirational Vision that provides opportunities for multiple uses within a predominantly natural environment and a framework to make this Vision a reality.

Old photo of boys fishing in the Otakaro Avon River


The geographical context

The Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor comprises 602 hectares of land and waterways including the Ōtākaro/Avon River located between central Christchurch city and the Ihutai/Avon Heathcote Estuary.

Aerial image showing the Regeneration Area in the context of Greater Christchurch