Our Achievements

We began after the first Avon River Red-Zone land announcement in 2011 when people started really thinking about what should become of the land. Our founding members are the Avon River Park Facebook group, the River of Life Project and Campaign for a Memorial Reserve Covenant.
We’ve grown to include many supporting individuals and organisations with a similar vision.
In May 2012 we delivered a petition signed by more than 18,500 people, asking Parliament “to work with the people and local authorities of Christchurch to ensure that the Avon River red zone becomes a reserve and river park when the home owners have to leave”.
We work with other community groups aiming to build a better Christchurch and liaise with and consult organisations such as Regenerate Christchurch, Environment Canterbury and Christchurch City Council to help shape the future of land around the Avon River (known in Maori as Ōtākaro). We have made submissions to Parliament’s Local Government and Environment Select Committee, the Christchurch City Council and Environment Canterbury.
In April 2015 we saw recognition of our advocacy in the Prime Minister’s announcement of a “community participation process … designed so the public has a say on the future use of the lands.”. This was enthusiastically endorsed by Mayor Lianne Dalziel with specific reference to the work of Avon-Ōtākaro Network.
Since then we have continued to make submissions, push things along and advocate for transitional uses, and in 2020 we finally saw the signing of the Global Settlement and Regeneration Plan. Some might say we have achieved our goals but we say we have a long way to go.

Time Line


  • Participated in River of Flowers, WSP Working Bee, Student Volunteer Army Big Give, GROW Ōtautahi Christchurch Garden Festival, Avebury Gala, Meet in the Middle (Walking Festival and Biketober), Mother of all Cleanups, Matariki in the Zone.
  • Continued our removal of internal fences and white post entrances.
  • Media stories for Newsroom, Newsline and green thumbs.
  • Signed along with 250 others the Waterways Partnership Charter, an initiative that Evan Smith had spearheaded.
  • Facilitated an Annual Plan submissions workshop with projects and local communities, resulting in a number of submissions and verbal deputations giving strength to advocating for the corridor.
  • Work began on the long-awaited foot bridges funded by the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal Trust.
  • Week-long exhibition and series of talks at the Kiosk in the Botanic Gardens.
  • A collaboration between the CHCH East School and the Avon Loop Planning Association in enabling transitional projects while they develop their long-term plan for the Avon Loop.
  • Banks Avenue School kids started to build their tree huts at Adventure Ave.
  • Motion approved by CCC to start the process of forming an establishment co-governance group.


  • Published the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor Governance case studies Academic review of governance models.
  • John Taylor Memorial opens.
  • Media Stuff, Newsline and National Geographic.
  • Adventure Ave gets bike track in place, as well as plantings and an Evan Smith memorial seat.
  • $40M for the ŌARC from the acceleration fund approved by Cabinet.
  • Year Covid-19 restrictions took Mother of all Clean Ups online as well as a self-guided Meet in the Middle bike tour.
  • Public Forum held at the Tannery to discuss “whats up” attracted over 150 attendees, followed by workshops for the communities and the projects.  
  • Hosted workshops and attended local events and schools to gather data to give feedback to the CCC on the City-to-Sea pathway.
  • White post openings were put in place as well as the removal of internal fences to provide better access to all and reduce the need for sprayers.
  • 2012 petition returns to Council Chambers via the river corridor on the water by foot and bike- delivered to the Honourable Poto Williams MP for Christchurch East outside the CCC building to be handed to our founding members to be handed back to Mayor Lianne Dalziel.
  • Co-Governance took a step closer with council staff being asked to investigate the establishment of a co-governance entity.
  • Founder and leader Evan Smith passed away on the 28th of August surrounded by his family and friends.
  • Wrapped up the year with a Christmas function at Tūranga, showcasing the amazing ongoing or proposed projects in the red zone.


  • Deputation to Council on our work from 2018, including the census data and our pilot testing of an electrothermal weeder.  Annual Plan submissions. 
  • Thanks for the Memories memorial opened at Retreat Reserve.
  • Participated in River of Flowers, Mother of all Clean Ups, Duck Down to the River, Avebury Gala, Matariki in the Zone, Christchurch Urban Restoration Workshop, Meet in the Middle and Walking Festival.
  • Judged and provided letterboxes to the Richmond Community Garden Red Zone Letterbox Sculpture Competition.
  • Media stories for Stuff, Newsline and ODT.
  • Secured funding for the OARC over 2 years in the Annual Plan.
  • Advocated for the signing off of the Global Settlement to get on with things. Transitional governance group Te Tira Kahikuhiku formed.
  • Long-standing Executive Committee member Sarah Butterfield recognised by the CCC for her mahi.
  • Interviewed and published prospective candidates for the local body elections- “Candidates on the Corridor”.
  • Banks Ave Kids delivered presentations to LINZ and CCC for their Adventure Ave Project in the Red Zone.
  • Regeneration Plan approved!!!!


  • We said farewell to one of our founding members Bill Sykes, an outstanding human and expert botanist.
  • Data collected from the Mother of All Clean ups 2017 resulted in the booms being returned to the river. Organising committee for 2018 Mother of all Clean Ups.
  • Attended and supported the Walk for Dementia, Red Zone 6, World Fish Migration Day, Children’s Day, the Walking Festival, Red Zone Stories and many, many planting days.
  • Delivered our Inanga field trip to Mahinga Kai Exemplar with EOS Ecology and 7 schools in attendance.
  • Submitted to the CCC Long Term Plan, Regeneration Plan and Deputation on Mother of All Clean Ups data.
  • Recovered and reinstated one-third of the Medway Bridge as a memorial.
  • Exhibition in the city mall for the duration of the Regenerate CHCH Red Zone Futures Expo to show people the actual projects in action or proposed; 100s of volunteer hours went into delivering this.
  • Matariki in the Zone moved to Richmond in collaboration with Avebury House and Richmond Community Garden.
  • Media coverage on Stuff, Live News, Christchurch Star, and Plains FM.
  • Featured in the Tindall Foundation Annual Report.
  • Te Ara Ōtākaro Avon Trail completed.
  • Conducted the Red Zone Census and published the results.
  • Delivered a very successful Meet in the Middle event at Kerrs Reach with Tiki Taane headlining and over 5000 attendees.
  • Implemented Riverbend Refuge in collaboration with Greening the Rubble and Working Waters Trust.


  • Lie of the Land Forums for proposal champions including Regenerate Christchurch.
  • Support gained from Regenerate Christchurch, CCC and City Care Ltd to progress the transitional stop bank cycle/walkway from city to sea. $50k grant from MSD.
  • Recognition of AvON by Regenerate Christchurch as a key community stakeholder in regeneration planning for the red zone.
  • Native Nature space in Children’s Day held in the Red Zone for the first time.
  • Commissioned an Ecological Restoration Options study in collaboration with Avon-Ōtākaro Forest Park and Greening the Red Zone.
  • Contributed to the Transitional Wayfinding project.


  • Matariki in the Zone with strong participation of Ngāi Tahu.
  • Joining the Dots Forum for proposal champions including Regenerate Christchurch.
  • Mahinga Kai Exemplar Strategy agreed with Ngāi Tahu and Ngai Tūāhuriri.
  • MKE native planting events: a total of 5,500 plants in the ground with many local schools involved. Successful Million Metres crowd-funding campaign raising more than $16k.
  • Red Zone Treks – public walk and talks through the red zone for Breeze Walking Festival.


  • MKE native planting events: 2,500 plants in the ground.
  • Eyes East TV series on proposals for the Red Zone and the East in collaboration with Eastern Vision. Still available online on the Rebuild Christchurch website.


  • Hosted a mini conference for key proposal advocates, with hangi provided by Ngāi Tahu.
  • Opening of Matariki Gardens and the start of the Mahinga Kai Exemplar (MKE) at ANZAC Reserve- the first restoration planting in the red zone with Ngāi Tahu, Ngai Tūāhuriri, DOC, ECan and CCC.  See Video.
  • EVO:SPACE online public engagement exercise on the Red Zone and the East undertaken in collaboration with Eastern Vision: 1600 respondents.


  • Agreement on retention methodology for existing vegetation (native and significant exotics, including fruit trees, protected and retained).
  • Hosted Project Forum for proposal champions opened by Ngāi Tahu.
  • Agreement between Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Centre for Freshwater Management and AvON to seek funding for a Mahinga Kai project in the red zone.
  • Incorporation of Avon-Ōtākaro Incorporated- our fund-sourcing and administering legal entity.
  • Successfully negotiated the setting aside of $15M CEAT funding for the implementation of future red zone projects that connect communities from city to sea. This fund remains unspent.
  • Commissioned a Lincoln University study that valued the benefits of a red zone river park at around a billion dollars over ten years.


  • Petition of 18,500 signatures to the House of Representatives to “work with the people and local authorities of Christchurch to ensure that the Avon River red zone becomes a reserve and river park when the home owners have to leave.”. Subsequent written and oral submissions to the Environment and Local Government Select Committee.
    Spring River Festival.
  • Team meets Prince Charles and Camilla.


  • Avon-Ōtākaro Network is founded.