Did you know in 1949/50, the Reach was widened and straightened in preparation for the Canterbury Centennial Games?
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“Richard Bedward Owen (‘River Bank’ Owen) established the River Improvement Fund.
Business people and local government gave money, and men employed on public works were paid not a pittance but the award rate, a principle being established to which the city council would adhere even in the depths of the 1930s’ Depression.
Richard’s men strove to turn into reality the ideal of “making Christchurch beautiful”.
They worked in the vicinity of Avon bridges within the city, and at Colombo Street replaced decayed structures with shrubs, a miniature waterfall and steps which gave access to the river.
Even as Richard laboured on these endeavours, there was developing in his mind a plan “to take in hand the river and make up for past neglect”. After much consideration, he presented his ideas to the Beautifying Association in December 1925, 75 years after the arrival of the First Four Ships.
Richard envisaged weirs being introduced to beautify the stream. The waterway beside Park Terrace would be a carnival area, while the Burwood-Dallington district would be blessed with a municipal golf course, zoological gardens and, below Kerrs Reach, one of the ‘finest regatta courses in the world’.
A weir from the Spit to Shag Rock would maintain water in the Avon-Heathcote Estuary and in this aquatic playground would be found accommodation for rowboats, speedboats and seaplanes. In pioneer times, coastal craft had frequented the river; with debris removed and the channel deepened, launches and perhaps even yachts would come again.”
“There is no doubt that a large water body in the red zone could address many unmet needs for recreation in the east of Christchurch.
And exploring synergies and ways to integrate some of the many ideas proposed for the Avon River red zone – the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor – are core objectives of Avon-Ōtākaro Network.
We have recently developed a concept around recreational renaturalisation of the river with a particular focus on Kerrs Reach that allows for flatwater sports and a river floodplain too.
There are also new advances in technologies for attractive river bank designs for flatwater sports lakes that use native plants, deter exotic geese and ducks, and dampen reflected wash from water craft that prevent the need for wide shallow-angled banks.
It also means that a lot of the Dallington red zone, and particularly Horseshoe Lake red zone, could be re-naturalised as river floodplain.
Some initial modelling has been done that demonstrates the plausibility of this in terms of hydrology and resilience to sea level rise.
Opportunities for enhancing mahinga kai values including improving habitat for inanga (whitebait) are also greatly increased.”
Driving through New Brighton Road, has always been a scenic drive, and even more so now, as you drive through parts of the residential Red Zone.
I’ve always enjoyed seeing the rowers, and other recreational river users, enjoying their time on the Ōtākaro Avon River, as I drove past.
It would be nice to have an outdoor seating area bedside New Brighton Road, so our locals and overseas visitors, can watch safely from the river bank.
Porritt Park has been unusable since the quakes and most of the residential area around it has been red-zoned by the Government.
– Could the Ōtākaro Avon River be made wider towards Avondale Road, and longer from Kerrs Reach to Avondale Road Bridge?
– Could the Ōtākaro Avon River be made deeper to allow for different water sports?
– Could this land be developed to create more trailer/car parking and landings/ramps, so there is more room for both Club and recreational users?
– Could we add a display/information about the First Four Ships?
This part of Christchurch’s history, would tie in well here at Kerrs Reach.
It could be an educational space for our local school children, NZ and overseas visitors.
‘A river of water clearer than crystal.’ is how John Deans, a settler at Riccarton Bush, described the Ōtākaro Avon River in 1844.
It would be nice to think that one day in the future, the Ōtākaro Avon River will be ‘a river of water clearer than crystal’ again.
– Red Zone Futures: The Story of Our River
– Discover The Delights Of Peeling Back History: Kerrs Reach
– Canterbury Rowing Club: About
– The NZ Journal: Canterbury Rowing Club, Kerrs Reach
– Union Rowing Club: A Brief History
– Christchurch City Libraries: The First Four Ships