'The river will listen with no judgement'

Twelve telephones have been installed on Christchurch riverbanks to let people talk their worries away.

Inspired by a similar project undertaken by a grieving man after the 2011 Japan tsunami, the organisation behind the River of Flowers project - Flourish Kia Puāwai - has created the telephone artwork.

"It’s an art installation for our well-being," said Flourish Kia Puāwai co-director Michelle Whitaker.

"A fun way to do something meaningful as not everyone has someone to talk to or someone they can safely tell everything to.

"The river will listen with no judgement."

Photo: Flourish Kia Puāwai
Photo: Flourish Kia Puāwai
The project was inspired by a man who set up a telephone box in his back garden following the Japanese tsunami in 2011.

He lost his cousin in the tsunami and would use his phone to talk to his cousin in his grief.

Soon people started to approach him to ask if they could use his phone to deal with their grief, loss and feelings through tough times.

Photo: Flourish Kia Puāwai
Photo: Flourish Kia Puāwai
The 12 phones can be found at the regular River of Flowers sites alongside the Avon-Ōtākaro, Heathcote-Ōpāwaho and the Estuary-Ihutai waterways.

"Feel free to use our special river phones to share your worries, concerns, grief or whatever you’re dealing with right now," Whitaker said.

Flourish hopes the river phone installations will help people working through tough feelings to connect with nature and improve their well-being and mental health.

"Now with the pandemic rules lessening it is a good time to get back out into nature before the weather gets colder," Whitaker says.

The phones can be found at:

  • Earthquake Memorial — Riverbank opposite Memorial wall
  • O-Tautahi /The Bricks — Barbadoes Street bridge adjoining riverbank
  • Richmond — Near new Medway Bridge
  • Avonside — River bank opposite old Avonside Girls’ High School
  • St Albans — Abberley Park
  • ​​​​​Burwood/Avondale — Avondale Bridge River bank​​
  • ​New Brighton — Owles Terrace River bank and pontoon
  • South Shore/South New Brighton — End of Estuary Road on the bank
  • Moncks Bay — Moncks Bay (or nearby)
  • Woolston — Woolston Radley Park
  • Beckenham — Beckenham Park
  • Princess Margaret Hospital — Heathcote River bank opposite Princess Margaret Hospital

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