President Ron Andrew and Committee Members, Special Guests Trevor and Jill Lord, (Owner and restorer of Woodford heritage Homestead, Built by original CBA Committee Member Albert Kaye and his wife Eliza Bannerman Kaye in 1886/7), distinguished guests one and all.
Thank you for the invitation to speak on the occasion of your 120th anniversary - commemorated on Friday 8th September.
1897 Christchurch. This was the year of Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee. Victoria Lake in Hagley Park was formed and named in her honour. In June the Benjamin Woolfield Mountfort designed clock-tower was erected on corner of High, Lichfield and Manchester Streets, now standing on the corner of Victoria and Salisbury Streets. The work creating the area known as Victoria Square was completed in 1897.
Christchurch was and is New Zealand's Garden City. And your Association has been a part of that from its inception.
What I have been saying though, is that what a Garden City means in the 21st century is so much more than what it meant when I was growing up.
Now it's not only about the beauty of our gardens and parks - a vista I proudly show off from the top floor of the Council building to visitors from around the world - I say you can see that we are New Zealand's Garden City. Now it is also about being focused on sustainability, environmental protection, clean rivers and streams and food resilience. A 21st Century Garden City is all of these.
But it is also about beauty. I went to the Len Lye Exhibition recently and was reminded of the moment that his fascination with his art began.
It was in his family backyard on Manchester St. He was a young boy and his father was dying. He was ushered into the backyard while the adults talked. He kicked an old kerosene can, which made a massive crash and flashed as it caught the sunlight. When he wrote of this moment years later, he said, "We're all stopped short by wonder sometimes and that's when it first stopped me in its tracks."
Nature has this wonderful capacity to stop us short by wonder.
When I am feeling down, when I feel that joy has been drained from my life, it is the beauty of nature that can replenish the soul in a way that little else can.
I remember when I ran for Mayor there was a lot of concern that we were going to stop being a garden city, that all our English heritage would be replaced, the willows on the Avon would go and native plantings would replace our beautiful and colourful introduced flowers and trees including the cherry trees that blossom so dramatically at this time of the year.
I am pleased to see our pre-colonial history finds its place in the regeneration of the city. Our Maori history is rich indeed. But there is no question from Mana Whenua that our history is shared and that one cannot be fully expressed without the other.
Your Association's role in establishing the Floral Clock, (something I never took for granted as a child - I always wanted to visit it if we went into town), is a tribute to the Garden City. The Daffodils in Hagley Park give a colourful visualisation of spring like no other. And the Peacock Fountain, after exciting a huge debate over the colour scheme, is a popular photo spot for residents and visitors alike.
I walk past the Waterwheel established for your centenary on most days, and it reminds me of those who had the passion for beautifying our city. They were ahead of their time. And of course it was the centenary year that saw Christchurch awarded Garden City of the World out of 600 entries. Something your association contributed much to achieve.
And today you are looking to the The Garden City of the Future. The Garden Village you are promoting speaks to a living village - an ideal that brings communities together to share the joy of gardening and creating wonderful environments in which to live and from time to time to be stopped short by wonder.
Congratulations on your 120th Anniversary - I came today because I wanted you to know how valued you are by your city. As Mayor of Christchurch and a former Member of Parliament I stand along the Mayors and MPs before me who have encouraged you in your work.
Thank you for what you have done and for what you continue to do.