Re:Tart the Heart?


“We ask them to keep it down, but that is all you can do at this point. We do ask them to be respectful of people living there. It is not an ideal situation at all, but if they are not there they have to be somewhere else…” Anna Reed New Zealand Prostitutes’ Collective regional co-ordinator

The temporary pop up container mall inside City Mall is a result of the great work of John Suckling, Paul Lonsdale and others from the Inner City Business Association in the Re:Start the Heart initiative* that opened on time for last November’s Show Week.

It is an inspirational CBD case study of positive attitudes, public and private sector collaboration, accelerated project planning and innovative retailing. It  includes a mix of old tenants, big brands, new outlets and pre-quake central city stalwarts like Ballantynes.

Now that The Press Co has led the move back into the central city to their new building which was about to be opened when the Feb 22 2011 quake struck, there is a need for more life and colour elsewhere and further pop up malls are planned.

Not Boring and Dull

Boring and Dull, two small towns on either side of the Atlantic, have decided to get together and become sister communities*. Christchurch has to avoid being labelled boring and dull as the re-build picks up steam. and some creative inner city bars and cafes like Revival and now Smash Palace in Victoria St are showing the way. The Casino has been open for months near the now levelled Crown Plaza Hotel site.

Until last year’s February earthquake our offices for almost 20 years, most of the life of the building  were in Mancan House, on the corner in Manchester streets and Cambridge Terrace, by the river, just 60 metres from the Pyne Gould Guiness building, formerly the home of the Christchurch Drainage Board.  Christchurch was then a somewhat different tale of two cities by day and by night. On reflection our mirror glass building was strategically placed for the ladies of the night, who rather disconcertingly used to repair their makeup and adjust their minimal uniforms with its assistance.

The building was demolished just a few weeks ago and is now a levelled site with a lonely cabbage tree standing near where a night worker used to ply their trade.

After the first September 2010 earthquake some Press correspondents had blamed that first tectonic manifestation on the street walkers of the inner-city. The following February’s killer quake, with the destruction of so many churches and cathedrals, meant that this particular line of shonky and shaky explanation faded away. The home video below is a compelling record of people in the CBD the minutes immediately after the lethal quake*.

The city’s red-light zone has moved north of Bealey Ave since the February 22 quake after the original area was cordoned in the red zone. Inner-city massage parlours were locked behind the cordon, damaged or destroyed. That led to unseemly problems in suburban areas with residents finding themselves living in the middle of a mobile red-light zone.

Pressure has been brought to bear the Christchurch on City Council to control street prostitution in residential areas. City council programme manager for strong communities Alan Bywater said it was hard to control street prostitution with bylaws.

New Zealand Prostitutes’ Collective regional co-ordinator Anna Reed said she expected street workers to return to the former red-light district once the cordon was lifted. 16 months later, as the seismic red zone no go cordon is reduced and the building free areas expanded, with a proliferation of Wilson Carpark signage, the traditional red zone is filling the vacuum.

With the influx of construction workers, sex workers, pushed out to the inner suburbs to the consternation of remaining residents, are teetering unsteadily back to the inner-city as the cordon contracts in what could be described as  a Re:Tart the Heart initiative. 

It will be a darker shade of red if the proposal to build temporary accommodation for construction workers in the city’s frail heart goes ahead.  What I guess  you could call concentration camps. 

Al Galbraith’s great belated debut album Silverfox, featuring  the stunning music video Courtenay Place*, shot in Wellington after the International Sevens 2011, conveys some of the central city atmosphere that was lost in Christchurch with the quakes.

For those who want to see Christchurch as it was pre-Quakes CityViewAR is a locally produced clever app that allows you to see the city as it was used to be with  virtual buildings overlaid on the real world where the real buildings used to be.*

 A flood of biblical proportions?

Of course, this sort of night or day life is not to everybody’s tastes and for those wanting to insure against divine retribution for the sinful streets of Christchurch there are other avenues.

With a new tsunami warning system being installed on the coast of Christchurch  by the City Council, Zane Ratcliffe has responded to a council letter warning of his home’s flood risk by starting work on his ark*-an all purpose, all weather amphibian building, which also acts as transport.  Alan Gibbs would approve. 

Divine insurance might be easier to get in Christchurch post quakes than the secular kind.

Logan Butler USA A Letter to Christchurch.pdf (1.91MB) This letter to the residents of Christchurch was left in Cashel Mall.  Vid    “Started filming a minute or so after the big one struck,”  Vid Courtenay Place from the album Silverfox by Al Galbraith.  CityViewAR is a mobile Augmented Reality application that allows people to see how the city was before the earthquakes,  using an Android mobile phone-and soon an i-Phone.
Man builds ark after flood warning  

#Lyall Lukey 6 June 2012 My other (bit more serious) blog 


One Response to “Re:Tart the Heart?”

  1. 1 Geoff McDonnell

    The Inner City does need some Tarting of the Heart in its nightlife and I would suggest the good Ladies of the Night are just the people to provide it.
    CERA could encourage the granting of Brothel Keepers licences to any enterprising entrepreneurs wishing to put surplus containers to an unthought of but good use.
    Christchurch being the first City in the Southern Hemisphere to show just how adaptable empty containers are, can continue its initiative here and provide the location to show with great pride the underestimated versatility of containers.
    Just as the good ladies of Kings Cross led the way many years ago showing the versatility of Holden Panel Vans and today the versatility of People Movers, perhaps some of our Freight Forwarding companies could pioneer mobile brothels using shipping containers and using Manchester Street as a location to operate from.

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