Local stormwater superhero awarded for his efforts

Local stormwater superhero, Evan Smith, has recently been awarded an honorary Stormwater Superhero Award, by the Christchurch West Melton Water Zone Committee, for his efforts towards improving water quality in Ōtākaro/Avon River.

Smith has dedicated significant time and effort towards community education, raising awareness, and facilitating community action in the Ōtākaro/Avon River and wider catchment.

Annabelle Hasselman, Chair of the Ōpāwaho Heathcote River Network and Deputy Chair of the Christchurch West Melton Water Zone Committee, said Smith is a role model for all of us working to improve the health of our urban waterways in Christchurch.

"His knowledge of the area and ability to see a vision and work towards it is inspiring."

Committee acknowledges Smith's achievements

“Evan continued to champion reducing contaminants in our waterways by controlling what is entering our stormwater system at the source.

“Aside from improving our infrastructure, he believed behaviour change through community education, awareness-raising, and community actions can be effective," said Hasselman.

On behalf of the Christchurch West Melton Water Zone Committee, Environment Canterbury and supporting community groups, Hasselman congratulated Smith on his award and extended her thanks for his tireless efforts to raise awareness and visualise a brighter future for waterways.

"Tēnā rawa atu koe, thank you very much Evan,” said Hasselman.

A force to be reckoned with

Smith has been a strong advocate for the environment - making presentations and submissions; organising events; developing demonstration projects; and restoring wetlands, riparian areas, and mahinga kai values.

Some of Smith's other achievements include:

  • Liaising with Christchurch West Melton Water Management Zone Committee - reporting on activities of the Avon-Ōtākaro Network and being a member of the committee’s recreation working group.
  • Promoting the Community Waterways Partnership Charter, a shared statement of intent among community groups, iwi, researchers, businesses, and local, regional and central government to work in partnership to achieve outcomes that improve the ecological health, indigenous biodiversity and the amenity value of our urban waterways in a collaborative way. 
  • Advocating for wetlands to treat stormwater in Horseshoe Lake area, to be included in the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor Regeneration Plan.
  • Organising the Meet in the Middle event, connecting communities along the river, and providing stalls focussing on household and community actions on stormwater.
  • Instigating the Mahinga Kai Exemplar Project in Anzac Drive Reserve – an area of wetland and indigenous plantings that provide ecological connectivity between the Ōtākaro/Avon River and Travis Wetland – led by Ngāi Tūāhuriri and Avon-Ōtākaro Network in partnership with Christchurch City Council and the Department of Conservation.  
  • Establishing a residential rain garden and rain storage exemplar at Richmond Community Gardens.
  • Coordinating the Mother of all Clean Ups – an annual event held on the eve of Mother’s Day, involving volunteers who clear tonnes of rubbish from riverbanks and the estuary edge. This was adapted to the 2020 Mother of all Clean Ups - Home Edition! Which, during the COVID-19 lockdown, encouraged families to undertake an on-line audit of their property’s storm water set-up and raised awareness about how this impacts our waterways.
  • Submitting to Christchurch City Council on replacement Litter Booms in the Ōtākaro to collect the rubbish coming down from the city.
  • Advocating for 602 hectares of red zone land along the Ōtākaro/Avon River to be restored as a multipurpose park that promotes enhanced biodiversity, restoration of mahinga kai values and the creation of amenity and recreation for locals and visitor. In June 2020, the Christchurch City Council took over management of this land from the Crown, with plans secured to restore and protect the area.

Remembering a community superhero

Sadly, Smith passed away not long after receiving his award.

Kevin Brown - Chair of Christchurch West Melton Water Zone Committee, remembers his heroic impact

Pictured above: Annabelle Hasselman and Evan Smith with Smith's Stormwater Superhero Award.