Obviously when we are talking about food, there are significant opportunities. I often make
the point that if you were looking at the region's economy you could be mistaken for not
thinking there had been a series of earthquakes. Our region's economy did not really miss a
beat such is the strength of the agricultural sector.
But I am very aware that the knowledge base in the room is far broader than my own. So I
wanted to concentrate my remarks on what I see as the future of Christchurch and the
significance of food to that.
It has been interesting to see the desire to capture the future of the city in a single phrase – the
vision statement as it were. I've tried to avoid that, because it ends up being allowing people to
feel excluded by a bunch of words. For me it's a city where anything is possible right now and
actually I like that.
But I have grown up in The Garden City.
It is a comfortable description of our heritage and we will always be known as such.
But our sense of comfort has been disrupted and we are now making important decisions
about the look and feel of our central city at the same time as dealing with hugely challenging
issues like land stability and flood risk, while at the same time having to think to the future in
terms of the impact of climate change.
These are global issues.
But so are food and water – both in terms of security of supply and in terms of safety and
Supply chains are also under close scrutiny. Guarantees from the farm gate to the dinner plate
are now expected to be in place.
Christchurch has been selected as one of the 100 Resilient Cities Network, sponsored by the
Rockefeller Foundation. I have been making the point that I don't want us to be Christchurch
– the Resilient City. I want us to be a resilient city. And when you think about what I have
been talking about, food, water, natural hazards, supply chains and climate change, you
should be able to see that resilience is essential to each one.
Think of where Christchurch is:
We face the Canterbury Plains – food and water security are global issues;
We face the coastline – this is another global issue with over half the world's population now
living in large coastal cities exposed to far more extreme weather events and sea-level rise;
We face natural hazards much closer to our city than we thought – our experience enables us
to contribute to an understanding of the physical sciences and new building technologies. It
links us to the world of risk, the understanding and measurement of which is equally
interesting to governments as it is to insurers and reinsurers;
We are the gateway city to the Aoraki-McKenzie Dark Sky Reserve, another place where we
search for knowledge;
We are one of only five cities in the world that is the gateway to Antarctica, supported by a
strong international airport and seaport. Our gateway status has already attracted the United
States, Italy and Korea to base their programme support here, which brings scientists and
researchers here on a regular basis.
We are one of only ten gateway cities to the Great Wine Capitals of the World network of
internationally renowned wine regions;
We are passionate about sport, which challenges us to think about the role of protein, diet and
exercise as more of the world's manual work is mechanised and we stare down the face of a
diabetes epidemic that no health system can sustain;
We love theatre, music, cultural events, art – just look at the numbers that flowed into
Cathedral Square for Canterbury Tales during FESTA or the Korean Cultural Day, or the people
who contributed to buying the Bull for the city;
We have some of the world's leading expertise on all of these in our world-class Universities,
Institute of Technology, Crown Research Institutes, organisations and private companies.
And that is the real answer to the question about what our region can contribute to the New
Zealand food industry. It won't be enough that we tell the story of our 100% Pure offering; it
needs to be backed up with the science and the knowledge that proves each step along the way.
Christchurch is perfectly positioned to be the centre of knowledge about these issues meaning
that we can offer leadership on a global scale. This fits with New Zealand's own story of the
small country that can conquer the highest peaks.
It is important that we don't just see the food industry as something that sits within our
tourism industry. And in a way placing the statistics in that context misses the bigger picture.
I often make the point that in 2030 I will be 70 years old. Someone entering primary school will
be 21 years old.
Thinking to the future for our 21 year old in 2030, is not the Christchurch we are re-creating,
one that is a 21st century centre of research, science and technology, which will seek to solve
many of the challenges that face the world, while at the same time offering a quality of life
second to none?
Clean, green, safe, accessible and smart was what we said during Share an Idea.
That's why proposals like Christchurch - Sensing City, which would enable us to measure all
aspects of our environment in real time, creates such an opportunity. We will know instantly
cause and effect, something no place on earth does now. This is the sort of idea that will attract
young people to come and encourage them to stay.
Think about the recent presentation made by Ian Taylor of Americas Cup animation.
Christchurch is uniquely positioned to be a world class showcase of visualisation tools. Will
ours be the only city in the world where we can see what was there as we walk through our city
in the future? Think about what that means to our 21 year old.
Think about the spin-off that comes from these technologies, from internet apps and games
through to life-saving technologies – all producing high quality jobs for the 21 year old.
When we start reimagining Christchurch in these terms, we can see why our status as one of
the resilient cities network creates such a strong platform for the future. We are carving out a
place for Christchurch, not just in New Zealand, but globally.
But it also says why food is so vital to that future and hospitality as well. The hospitality sector
is of vital importance to the look and feel of the city – the vibe of the thing. Talk to young
people and they miss the Strip and SOL Square, places that emerged with a look and feel of
vibrancy that blended the old and the new.
People are really looking forward to being able to trip through town enjoying the range of
nightlife activities that the new city will bring.
The hospitality sector is going to be a very important part of the lifestyle side of our future and
it will support a vibrant tourist market that will come to Christchurch, many out of curiosity,
and will return only if the experience is satisfying.
Think of what has attracted the attention of Lonely Planet and the New York Times – it was the
traditional offering – it was the new, edgy, creative, transitional movement that has dared to
be different, greened the rubble and given life to vacant spaces. What develops here will be
very much a new story.
And Christchurch already has some amazing resilience stories to tell. You should think about
telling some of them at Fine Food New Zealand.
We had Sam Crofskey of C1 speak at the resilience workshop a couple of weeks ago and the
story inspired everyone.
Re-purposing buildings and containers so people could keep the spirit of their offering alive ––
I think of Pedros lamb shank offering continuing from a caravan until his new restaurant is
I think of the Re:Start Mall and how that has enabled small business operators to remain in the
CBD while the planning process got underway.
Restaurateurs have proved to be the entrepreneurs they are by developing novel concepts to
keep the city alive and create new interest for locals and our introduced workforce alike.
We want to tell these stories because they help other cities think about what they would do if
confronted with disaster – and it doesn't have to be a natural event – we are perfectly capable
of our own man-made disasters.
That is what we can give back to the rest of the country with our resilience message. I think it is
important that New Zealand knows that their investment in the creation of a new city centre
here in Christchurch is actually an investment in the future of our nation as a whole.
We have an incredible opportunity and we must capture that.
And there is no better place to start than the food industry. The future of the planet depends
on getting that right and we are incredibly well-positioned to play a pivotal role in developing
the knowledge we need to do that. And because of the quality of the food and wine in the
region, we can offer a lifestyle second to none at the same time.