A city profile of Ōtautahi Christchurch

M. Hobbs*, A. Ahuriri-Driscoll, S. Kingham, J. Wiki, L. Marek, M. R. Dionisio, A. Curl, P. Schluter, K. Banwell, J. D. Mackenbach

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This city profile provides a transdisciplinary story of Ōtautahi Christchurch, Aotearoa New Zealand. We take a socio-cultural history approach to describe multiple disruptions that have led to the city's current urban form and community resilience, with a specific emphasis on the experiences of Māori since colonisation. Ōtautahi Christchurch is the ancestral home of Ngāi Tahu people who exercise mana whenua - Indigenous sovereignty with respect to land, derived from genealogy and occupation. The area was colonised in the early 1800s and the city's strong colonial English ties are still visible in the city's layout, public spaces, urban representations, and architecture. Te Waipounamu South Island lies in an active fault zone resulting in high seismic activity. The Canterbury Earthquake Sequence 2010-2012 had a significant impact on the health of local communities, infrastructure and economies across the region. Subsequent recovery and long-term regeneration strategies across the region have been developed and partly implemented to date. Citizens embrace collaborative temporary urban projects to bridge the gap between emergency response and urban recovery with a return of Māori influence post-quake. This type of place-making contributes to the re-establishment of a sense of place in Ōtautahi Christchurch and a continuous engagement focused in reconnecting the citizens with the city. With this city profile we contribute to the field of critical geographies by sharing the cultural lessons learnt on indigenous resilience to disasters recovery, which may be of relevance to other cities facing ecological and cultural disruptions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103481
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022

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