In the same Waka

By Loren Heaphy


Our thoughts and best wishes go out to the millions of residents in the city of Wuhan in China’s Hubei province – one of the most severely affected cities by COVID-19 – as they leave lockdown. We are encouraged by this good news here in Christchurch, New Zealand.

In this global pandemic, the Chinese and people all around the world have suffered – some have lost jobs, some have been separated from loved ones and many have been confined to limited spaces.

Here in New Zealand we are already starting to see the impact this pandemic has had on two of our strongest industries – tourism and export trade. In such a breathlessly short period they have gone from strong and growing sectors to almost a complete shutdown. While devastating, it is a time for us to rethink and change how we do things. It is a time to acknowledge how close people are related to the natural environment and how important mutual help and love between people is.

Recently ChristchurchNZ, along with Christchurch City Council and their other trading companies, announced an Economic Recovery Package to provide short, medium and long-term support for the city. This included a Business Support Subsidy component which will be delivered by ChristchurchNZ. This spirit of collaboration is also central to the planning to support our economy, community and business once we emerge from Alert Level Three.

Christchurch is a strong city with tolerance and endurance. During the nationwide lockdown period, residents have strictly followed the regulations and stayed at home. But despite this, we continue to see many acts of kindness and hope including people spontaneously putting teddy bears in their front windows so children walking by can see them and signs saying ‘stay safe’ and ‘Kia Kaha’ (meaning ‘stand strong’) plastered over neighbourhoods.

Christchurch has always been a friendly and kind city, as we always emphasize – ‘we are one’, regardless of race or skin colour. We like to learn and understand the cultures of different ethnic groups and to celebrate the diversity that different cultures and languages bring.

Once our borders are open, we look forward to welcoming our Chinese and Asian visitors back to our beautiful Aotearoa and Ōtautahi Christchurch. We have so much for visitors to explore – Christchurch is a beautiful city, rebuild on a spirit of optimisim and hope, with superb retail and hospitality, serene gardens and a rich history of exploration and adventure. Visitors to our city are only a short drive from world-class ski fields, endless coastlines, beautiful vineyards and numerous national and regional parks.

But until then we say ‘He waka eke noa’ – we are all in this together. This whakataukī resounds across the city as we come together, in the same waka, to unite against COVID-19.


The author is General Manager – Destination & Attraction at ChristchurchNZ


ChristchurchNZ is the city’s sustainable economic development and city profile agency.  Our purpose is to stimulate sustainable economic growth for a more prosperous Christchurch. We work to a mission of igniting bold ambition for our city. Our core priorities are to grow jobs, improve the economic, social and environmental competitiveness of Christchurch businesses, and promote Christchurch nationally and globally to people who want to do business, invest, study and live in our incredible city. We work domestically and internationally to enhance our city’s strong reputation as a basecamp for exploration and innovation. We bring together partnerships to deliver multi-generational community benefit. These partnerships across business, community, iwi and government (local and central) and are informed by evidence-based economic insights.