Resilient Canterbury town shines through adversity


Neville Atkinson. Photo: Supplied
Neville Atkinson. Photo: Supplied
Kaiapoi is once again showing resilience in the face of adversity.

Waimakariri Deputy Mayor Neville Atkinson says the town’s earthquake experience meant it and the wider district were “semi-prepared” for the impacts of the Covid-19 lockdown.

“The attitude around town is extremely positive. People are looking forward rather than back.

“There is a lot of resilience in the district as a result of the quakes, so even though it’s very different pandemic prepared.”

While the recovery could take several years, Atkinson says the big advantage for this recovery is there is no infrastructure damage.

“We need to look at recovery not just as a district, but also from a regional point of view as part of Greater Christchurch and also Canterbury as well, and we also need to consider how Canterbury fits into New Zealand Inc.

“None of us will recover on our own. We need each other.”

Atkinson said, besides Covid-19 itself, his biggest concern is the mental well-being of residents.

“Like everybody I’m concerned about what people are really thinking. I’m keen to find out how people are actually feeling.”

Kaiapoi-Tuahiwi Community Board chairwoman Chris Greengrass says she has been pleased to see the increase in traffic in the town over the last week.

Chris Greengrass. Photo: Supplied
Chris Greengrass. Photo: Supplied
She hopes to encourage landlords of empty shops on Williams St to make them more attractive to bring in tenants.

“The whole environment has changed, so it will depend on people’s mindset. Will people be going to the malls?

“Places like Kaiapoi and Rangiora may become more attractive places for businesses to rent.”

Greengrass also chairs All Together Kaiapoi, which was established as the You Me We Us Kaiapoi Project to support community recovery after the earthquakes.

She hopes activities can still happen in the coming months, even if they are reduced.

While the Kaiapoi Art Expo and the Fire & Ice Festival have been cancelled, All Together Kaiapoi still plans to put up lanterns along Williams St during the winter the locals

Earthquake commemorations planned for September 4, to mark the 10th anniversary, have been postponed until next year, but All Together Kaiapoi still hopes to proceed with the spring festival in late September.

“We probably won’t be able to have Party in the Park, but the week prior we will look at putting the decorations up the street and we will encourage businesses to put up window displays, Greengrass says.

Sadly, the children’s division of All Together Kaiapoi, KYDz, which was due to meet in March, has been “put on the back burner until next year”.



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