Photo by: Tony Stewart
“Christchurch has always been known as the garden city, but that now means so much more than just flower gardens,” says Mayor Lianne Dalziel when asked about her hometown 5 years on from the earthquake.
She says the February 22 Anniversary gives the city an opportunity to reflect on what has happened, but also provides a platform for the future.
“Christchurch will be known for its resilient food co-ops, environmental sustainability and energy efficiency. This gives a whole new meaning to what our future garden city will be all about.”
Having been in her current role for just under two-and-a-half years, Lianne says it hasn’t been without its challenges but she’s still just as passionate about her city today as she’s ever been.
“Whenever I have visitors, I always take them to see our fabulous new Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre, as well as popping into Cunningham House which houses a huge variety of indoor plants.
“I love the city's historic buildings, but in saying that, there are so many exciting, new buildings popping up all over the city. Christchurch has the best international airport in the country and it’s so easy to get anywhere from here - in the same day you could be at the beach or on the ski field.”
She says five years on, the city’s infrastructure is much more resilient and there is a more caring community environment where people look after each other.
“There is still a certain level of frustration for those who still haven't resolved EQC or insurance issues, and that is justifiable. We need to help these people have closure … they need a fair resolution to their issues.”
The Cantabrian says the quake has also given a much better understanding of living in an environment which is exposed to natural hazards.
Having been a Member of Parliament for 23 years prior to her mayoralty, Lianne spent much of her time flying in and out of Christchurch and says she’s always pleased to get back home after travelling.
“I was born and bred here, it's where home is.”
She's inviting fellow New Zealanders to visit Christchurch and experience the new rebuild first-hand for themselves.
“There are a whole lot of interesting transitional projects happening in the city right now. You need to get down to Christchurch to see this. If you don't come now, you won't appreciate just how far we’ve come if you wait until the city is totally rebuilt. So get down here and enjoy our city!”