Governor-General opens new Christchurch Civic Building

28 August 2010

The new Christchurch Civic Building – home for the Christchurch City Council and named Te Hononga – was opened today (Saturday 28 August) by the Governor-General of New Zealand, Rt Hon Sir Anand Satyanand.

More than 150 guests attended the event to share in the celebration of the 50/50 joint venture redevelopment of the former New Zealand Post Mail Centre by the Council and Ngāi Tahu Property – the first public/iwi partnership development in New Zealand.

Sir Anand said the new Civic Building spoke of history and heritage and it was fitting that 160 years after the first British settlers arrived in Christchurch that the two strands of the region’s heritage had come together in the new Civic building as a joint venture.

“The opening of these Civic offices speaks of more than merely bricks and mortar. At a business level, it emphasises innovation and an expectation of improved service.

“Bringing Council’s affairs under the one roof should result in efficiencies and provide ratepayers and residents with enhanced access to Council services.”

He praised all those who had been involved in the project and in particular for their work in making the new Civic Building the most environmentally sustainable building in New Zealand.

“The Christchurch City Council’s new civic offices speak of modernity, but also of history, heritage and partnership.”

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said today’s opening was a proud day for Christchurch, not only for its residents, but also for the 1250 staff who have for many years worked in cramped, poorly lit and poorly ventilated conditions from a variety of locations within the central city.

“The Council began its search for a new home in 2004, finally settling on the Ngāi Tahu Property proposal for the redevelopment of the late 1970s-built New Zealand Post Mail Centre in 2007. The building had great bones which Athfield Architects have taken and created this magnificent building you see before you today. ”

He said it took 21 months and 630,000 man hours to demolish the interior and redevelop the building – “that equates to the average working lives of 7.3 New Zealanders”.

“More than 2014 people worked on site, with 98 per cent of the trades staff being from Canterbury. This injected millions of dollars into our community at a time when the recession was starting to impact on our economy.

“Importantly, the development was finished on time and within budget – a phenomenal achievement for all involved and I congratulate everyone for your commitment to this project which has been a true partnership reflecting the building’s name Te Hononga, meaning joining together.”

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu CEO Anake Goodall said the theme of partnership and unity were woven through the building from the pouwhenua Te Pou Herenga Waka to the Hereford Street mural Tuhituhi Whenua which recognised the different heritages of Māori and Pākehā.

“As Kaiwhakahaere Mark Solomon said at the blessing ceremony: ‘we have here Te Hononga – half owned by every resident of this city and half owned by mana whenua, the members of Ngāi Tahu. So in both a commercial and moral sense Ngāi Tahu joins with the residents of Christchurch to create both an inspiring and secure place for the public servants of this city’.”

Mr Goodall said it was important that the redevelopment of the building had been managed to reduce the impact on the environment. “This echoes our strong commitment at Ngāi Tahu to protect our natural environment, to ensure future generations have opportunities to keep our tikanga and mahinga kai practices alive.”

“The new Civic building is an example of how public-iwi partnerships can be conducted successfully. It is both a natural and large step forward for iwi to arrive at a position where we are the first-choice partners for councils and the Crown.”

“We are proud of this joint venture with the people of Christchurch and proud that this is the beginning of a long and enduring partnership.”