Architect Craig South suggests a new campaign promoting Christchurch’s spirit of exploration is a good fit with the city’s past and its current culture of innovation.
Christchurch has come a long way since the earthquakes, but we have yet to attract enough people to the city to get it really humming.
Not everyone will agree on how this is to be done, but ChristchurchNZ has certainly front footed the challenge this month by launching a new promotional campaign. Called The Christchurch Story, it invites newcomers ‘to explore the opportunity’ available in the city. A promotional video has been released, seeking to embed ‘exploration’ as a defining motif for Ōtautahi/Christchurch throughout its history and into the future.
It is an inclusive approach that acknowledges shared Māori and European heritage, Antarctic connections, the women’s suffrage movement and a legacy of excellence in research and development.
As architects, we embrace this emphasis on exploration and welcome the campaign’s implicit support for innovative development. It’s an approach that will likely resonate particularly strongly for those involved in local cutting edge endeavours in engineering and IT. At the very least, ‘exploration’ is a word worth thinking about and acting on in our day to day lives.
Of course, the broader hope is that this campaign will deliver a promotional punch that will plant this city squarely in front of potential investors, visitors, migrants and students. Let’s hope it finds a receptive audience, nationally and globally. If the forecasts are right, we really do have to come up with something bold to draw more people to Christchurch in order to plug a forecast workforce gap of 73,500 by 2031.
How we respond to this campaign, as individuals and within the local business community, will be important in helping to build future prosperity. There is potential to unify the city’s predominantly small and medium-sized businesses behind this one marketing goal, (though no doubt the theme could be communicated in a myriad of different ways). That’s what ChristchurchNZ will be hoping for, at any rate.
If it is to succeed, Christchurch City Council and ChristchurchNZ will need to keep this campaign at the forefront of their activities. A digital toolkit of photos, videos and information has been produced to help local businesses get on board, but more resourcing will likely be needed to drive the campaign forward in coming months. Growing this city will require more than just a slogan: it will take a long term commitment.
The Christchurch Story is like the city’s calling card: ‘here we are – come and explore with us’. We need to work together to push that invitation out beyond the city. For the ones who answer the call, what will they find? A liveable 21st century city, bursting with new ideas and new architecture, located close to mountains and sea. They will find a forward-thinking city, prepared to try concepts such as shared electric scooters and cycle ways. They will find a city simultaneously incubating innovation and fostering community values. I’m sure they will also find a warm welcome.
Christchurch is a great place to work and live. In today’s increasingly connected and crowded world, we are a place worthy of investment. To be known as ‘a city of explorers’ sounds good to me.
Published on Thursday, November 8th, 2018, under The Architecture