Type of project: Co-Design Project
Collaborator: Avon Ōtākaro Network, Working Waters Trust, Richmond Community Garden  Wood Ltd., Enviroschools Waitaha Canterbury
Sponsors/Funders: Christchurch City Council, Briford Trailers, The Tree People – Four Seasons Tree Care, Treetech, Natural Paint Co. Stop Digging, Christchurch City Libraries

Location: Opposite 309 River Road  on banks of Avon Ōtākaro River, Christchurch, NZ

Completed: March 2018.
Status: Active

Riverbend Refuge is a project on the banks of the Avon Ōtākaro River which was completed in stages between 2018 – 2019.  The first stage of the project saw The Green Lab and Avon-Ōtākaro Network working with Wood ltd. in response to the unprecedented opportunity to restore native riparian habitat and mahinga kai values throughout the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor (ŌARC). After allowing new native planting to establish, we designed and installed seating platforms around two trees on site. A commissioned poem by Kaumatua Teoti Jardine is inscribed onto tree rounds forming a pathway that connects the seating, allowing visitors to traverse through the riparian planting and mihi to the river. 

Working Waters Trust, working in collaboration with EnviroSchools Canterbury, collaborated with local primary schools and local artist, Richard ‘Pops’ Baker, to contribute eight Tuna (eel) artworks to the site as part of their Te Tuna Taone project. We installed these in 2019 and hosted a blessing event on site where tamariki from the different schools came together with all the collaborators. The site was blessed by Hutika Crofts-Gibbs from Matapopore, we shared kai (food), and did creative activities on site.  

Throughout this project we have had lots of help from the crew at Richmond Community Garden as well as our regular cohort of volunteers, and groups from Youthtown Christchurch, Student Volunteer Army, and Linwood College.  Students from Waitakiri Primary School, Selwyn House, Rudolf Steiner, Isleworth, Burnside Primary & Our Lady of the Assumption worked on the eel paintings. Thanks to Christchurch City Council Enliven Places Programme for their ongoing support of our work, and Land Information New Zealand for supporting this transitional land use in the ŌARC.



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