Greening the rubble

Sarah Mankelow —  22/08/2013

Most of my strongest childhood memories are of free, unstructured play in wild places near my home—building huts out of fern fronds, playing explorers by wading down a stream in the Kaimais, collecting tadpoles, and waving toi toi flags.

A stream in the Kaimais. Photo: Dennis Kuhn/flickr (cc)

Childhood memories of exploring streams in the Kaimais. Photo: Dennis Kuhn

These experiences were a huge influence on the adult I am today—someone who believes conservation is vital.

I’m trying to do the same for my own kids—but in this increasingly urban and tech-driven world it’s getting pretty hard. There are less “wild places” in cities. I’m competing with the TV, the computer, gaming devices… for their attention—and not always winning. Homework, sports and structured extra-curricular activities makes for busy lives.

We need to help families that are struggling to find time to reconnect with these wild places. Here in Christchurch DOC has partnered with the Greening the Rubble Trust to create a nature-play park in central Christchurch.

A small Greening the rubble garden in Christchurch.

Greening the rubble in Christchurch. Photo: Christchurch City Libraries

The park will encourage families to discover—through free play—what is special about Canterbury plants and wildlife, and how they can make conservation part of their urban lives as they recover from the devastating earthquakes.

It will be interactive and exploratory, allowing for fun and learning. It will be a key drawcard to engage children and young families within Christchurch’s regenerating CBD.

We hope the site will be well-visited and part of any trip to Central Christchurch, and we plan to run several events and activities here over the coming year—starting with an opening ceremony as part of the Open Streets event on Saturday 29 September.

Greening the rubble site. Photo: Fiona Oliphant.

Turning the sod at the new nature-play park. Photo: Fiona Oliphant

We have a lot of work ahead of us to create this space, and it’s projects like this that make you realise that it’s people that bring the magic. Without a whole lot of people happy to help and donate time or materials, this park will not happen. I’m looking forward to getting stuck in!

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Sarah Mankelow


A North Island defector, I came south to go to Lincoln Uni and never looked back. My first ‘serious’ job with DOC was in Arthur’s Pass. I've been based in Christchurch since the turn of the century!

One response to Greening the rubble


    Hi Sarah. Great to have a joint project with DOC in the city. More information and photos on Greening the Rubble’s mini-parks and gardens at their Facebook page: