The symbol of the Ōtākaro Living Laboratory is the kahikatea, Dacrycarpus dacrydioides, the tallest tree in the forests of Aotearoa. Kahikatea is a dominant species at the margins of land and water, growing tall for hundreds of years. The seed cone of the kahikatea embodies the spirit of experimentation and discovery. 

 



Kahikatea are being planted throughout the red zone as the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor Regeneration Plan is implemented. Find out more about the red zone here.

Kahikatea - Dacrycarpus dacrydioides. Image by Steve Attwood

A kaupapa

• a mission shared between Living Laboratory participants to enable us to better face local and global challenges together

• an ongoing willingness to experiment, discover, teach and learn together about new ways of living with a restless environment

 

The Living Laboratory is based on three pou, or posts or supports:

 

An ecosystem

• a network of researchers, educational institutions, schools, manawhenua, businesses, professionals and community groups, extending from local to global

• relationships with city entities that have an interest in the river corridor, such as ChristchurchNZ, the Community Waterways Partnership and the Climate Action Campus

 

A body of knowledge

• assembling and making accessible existing knowledge about evolving environmental, social, cultural and economic change in the river corridor

• building a major longitudinal study of such change into the future, including processes of climate adaptation and biodiversity change

 

The Ōtākaro-Avon. Image by Heather Parker, University of Washington

Ōtākaro Living Laboratory database word cloud

 

Image by Australian National University

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The Living Laboratory is overseen by an independent trust. The trust has representatives from the public, private and community sectors, including some of the key institutions in the city. It coordinates with other agencies and groups that have an interest in research and education in and around the river corridor. The trust members are:

Rob Kerr

Rob Kerr is a Chartered Professional Engineer and project director. He was Development Director for the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, where he was responsible for a number of the anchor projects in Christchurch central city, including the Margaret Mary playground. He was also General Manager - Residential Red Zone for Regenerate Christchurch and led the development of the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor Regeneration Plan.

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Roslyn Kerr

Roslyn Kerr is Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Environment, Society and Design at Lincoln University. She is also the Convenor of the Lincoln University Living Laboratory (www.lincoln.ac.nz/about-us/living-laboratory/) which is focused on providing opportunities for Lincoln students to engage with partners to explore, test and solve real-world problems relating to the university's land-based sector mission. 

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Nicole Manawatu 

Nicole is of Māori and English descent with strong whakapapa to local hapū Ngāi Tūāhuriri (Tuahiwi) and Kati Huikai (Port Levy).  She brings a strong cultural conscience to the team and loves assisting organisations to future think and transform their performance in relation to their impacts on society and the environment. She has delivered socially significant and complex projects within IRD and CERA and holds a number of directorships across environment and education.

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Eric Pawson

Eric Pawson is Emeritus Professor of Geography at the University of Canterbury. He has published widely in environmental history and environmental management, and has a particular interest in community-based research and learning, developed with students in the city since the earthquakes. He did the scoping work on the living laboratory as one of the foundations of the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor Regeneration Plan.

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Fiona Shanhun

Fiona Shanhun is Chief Scientist at the regional council, te Kaunihera Taiao ki Waitaha | Environment Canterbury and leads their climate change resilience programme. She is focused on developing partnerships and sharing science advice with rūnanga, communities, researchers and decision-makers to help improve environmental outcomes – mō tātou, ā, mō kā uri ā muri ake nei – for us, and our children after us.

Jamie Shulmeister

Jamie Shulmeister is Professor and Head of School of Earth and Environment/Te Kura Aronukurangi at the University of Canterbury. He is an environmental scientist with interests in long-term climate change and landscape evolution. He is excited by the opportunities that work in the Ōtākaro Avon river corridor provides for improved environmental outcomes for Christchurch and for driving UC involvement in the Living Lab.

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Lynda Weastell Murchison

Dr Lynda Weastell Murchison is an adjunct lecturer at Lincoln University and an environmental planner with over 25 years’ experience working with district and regional councils, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and in private practice, and teaching environmental and resource management courses at Canterbury and Lincoln universities. Lynda grew up in the suburb of Avondale with strong connections to Ōtākaro/Avon River, Travis Wetland and New Brighton. She is particularly interested in the role of connection to place in identity and well-being, and place-attachment as the foundation of environmental management systems.