The team behind the beating heart of Christchurch’s most innovative and edgy District has been recognised at a major
international awards. Ōtākaro and SALT District were last night awarded best Major Place Project at the Asia Pacific
Place Leaders awards in Canberra, Australia.
Investor Mike Percasky, who is a trustee of SALT Collective, travelled to Canberra for the Place Leaders Symposium
yesterday. He says, “It’s great to receive this award on behalf of SALT District. So many people have put in so much
time and effort over the past few years and it’s fantastic to be recognised internationally for all that hard work. This
award belongs to our SALT community”.
This win recognises best-practice placemaking over AUD$200k, by demonstrating excellence across five key criteria
including sensitivity to the authenticity and local narrative of place, taking a systemic approach, showing agility and
innovation and demonstrating clear value for people and communities.
According to Laura Taylor, placemaking advisor at Ōtākaro Ltd, the roots of the initiative were in late 2017, when
organisations in the area chose to co-create a community housewarming party as a unique way to celebrate the opening of
a new plaza. However, locals also recognised that the success of any great centre of innovation requires many elements
including hospitality, retail, education and residents to truly spark. Those involved recognised that the future for
this area would either be everyone remaining separate entities or making the choice to become a cohesive neighbourhood.
Local designer and branding expert, Josh Thompson, was called in to help explore an inclusive identity for the area as
an alternative to Innovation Precinct. Josh created the concept SALT District based on shared values which were emerging
for the area. In his proposal, SALT was not only an acronym for Southern Alternative and the locality around St
Asaph-Lichfield-Tuam. It referenced many meaningful layers, such as the creative, effective and down-to-earth attitude
of locals, the preservation of built heritage, and celebrating the connection between people and nature. This concept
was shaped with the help of many and gained local buy-in.
City agencies including Ōtākaro, ChristchurchNZ, Development Christchurch Ltd, Christchurch City Council and the Central
City Business Association have also got in behind the local initiative.
Bree Loverich of ChristchurchNZ says “placemaking is bottom up. The community, multiple city agencies, local businesses,
property developers have been coming together to collaborate under a shared purpose and shared values.” Stephen Hughes
of DCL says “we were initially involved in what was originally a lighting project, and to see it evolve into the SALT
District collaboration with projected street art and the successful collaboration with all the public sector agencies
plus the private sector is a big tick for successful urban regeneration. The award is the icing on the cake.”
In another win for the area, SALT Collective Trust has just today received charitable status. The Collective has been
established to enable collaboration between those in the area in ways that benefit both the area and the city. The
project involved a boundary-pushing approach to community benefit under Charity law with support provided by Steven Moe
at Parry Field Lawyers. “This project has been really exciting to be part of for the last few years and the passion of
the people involved and the real potential it represents is exciting”, said Mr Moe.
SALT Collective trustee Stuart Charters, of Signal ICT Graduate School, says “it is fantastic to see the work of Ōtākaro
and the SALT District community recognised for the placemaking that has happened and the vibrancy that has been built in
the District. Building on this work, the formation of the charitable trust gives a great platform to facilitate future
events and activities.”
SALT Collective’s seven volunteer trustees come from across the district and have diverse cross-sector experience,
including student radio, non-profits, hospitality, co-working, education, innovation and investment.
The Collective characterises the neighbourhood as ‘the boss’, with the trust itself as an ‘under-arching’ entity to
support collaboration. The trust will support the neighbourhood to regularly come together and keep learning about
placemaking, connect locals with artists and young people, and will grease the wheels for collaborative action in
various ways such as holding public liability insurance which local collaborations can call on.
Trustee James Meharry, Director of non-profit student radio station RDU98.5fm, says “RDU is peachy with pride for being
part of SALT District. Massive congratulations to all those involved in building the story that gained such accolade –
ka rawe!” The sentiments are echoed by trustee Leon Mooney of BizDojo co-working, who says “extremely proud of the
efforts of the individuals behind the SALT District. A true example of the results being greater than the sum of its
parts. Watch this space!”
Trustee Katy Clook from Friday Creative says, “We moved our studio to the SALT District for its vibe, energy and
compelling cool. This award is an amazing acknowledgement of the work that's gone into bringing SALT to life.
Locals are now forming subgroups around the passions and interests of locals to help the area succeed as a destination.
These include groups focused on community activation, events, an urban festival, place experience, and ‘layers of
fabulousness’. Subgroups welcome anyone who loves the area to get involved.
“The SALT project provides clear evidence that public-private partnership is the best way to deliver on the bold vision
for our new city. We are all very proud of the community collaboration that brought this idea to life”, says Tim Loftus,
General Manager Marketing, Brand and Communication at ChristchurchNZ.
“SALT District is a great example of how public and private entities, and a local community can work together to create
a very special new part of our city. We’re proud to have played our part,” says Laura Taylor.
Other award winners included Town Team Movement, which took out the Place Governance category. Town Teams are model for
how diverse locals and stakeholders can work together in a positive and proactive way to make great places for people.
SALT Collective joined the movement recognising that it provided an excellent framework for how locals could lead and
create impact. The Collective is New Zealand’s first Town Team, and the 36th of 44 neighbourhoods across Australasia to
take the initiative.
The award comes on the back of some impressive collaborations earlier this year, when the District gained attention for
the eye-popping SALT Ōtautahi mural, facing SALT Square by Little High and Alice in Videoland. Every night from 8pm the
mural is animated with a spectacular laser projection that was launched in October at the District’s Highlight Street
Art Party. Development Christchurch Limited made this possible by supplying the projector, which is available for other
organisers to use to activate the city.
Highlight demonstrated the scale of collaboration, being co-created by Oi YOU!, street art collectives across the South
Island, RDU98.5fm, MAINZ, local businesses and investors, with additional support from city agencies ChristchurchNZ,
DCL, Ōtākaro and Christchurch City Council.
Owner of Not Without You wine bar, Phillip Sunderland, said “it was so great to be a part of the event. The laneways and
square were bustling with people, despite the weather and everyone seemed very happy to be there. The new projection on
the wall is sensational. SALT District proved itself to be an amazingly creative space.” Retropolitan owner, Danny
Valentine, said “there was a great feel about the square and a very diverse group of people. We were very pleased to be
part of it, what a great night”.
Next on the local agenda is Dux Central’s initiative to activate neighbouring Vanguard Square with table tennis, RDU’s
popup music project, and work to complete the neighbourhood’s latest mural. The innovative artwork is being led by
George Shaw of Oi YOU! and renowned local street artist Guy Ellis, known as Dcypher, of the DTR crew. Shaw says, “it’s
fantastic that the place is being recognised. And it’s not stopping there. As we speak, we’re making speedy progress
with another mural to make the area even more special.”
To see the new mural being installed, visit Cotters Lane off 245 St Asaph Street near Little High.