Remembering a community superhero

It is with sadness that I share with you, the passing of one of Christchurch’s most dedicated stormwater superheroes, role models and advocates for improving the health of our urban waterways in Christchurch.

Evan Smith is well known in the community for advocating for 602 ha 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 visitors.

His passion for the environment, the waterways, and the life within them has been something to admire, while his dedication to the vision of a brighter future for all waterways inspiring.

Evan was crowned a Stormwater Superhero in July of this year, a modest way for the Christchurch West Melton Water Zone Committee (CWMWZC) to acknowledge his massive contribution to community education, raising awareness, and facilitating community action in the Ōtākaro/Avon River and wider catchment.

Evan has always 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.

Evan’s relentless rallying for the health and importance of protecting our environment will be missed, but the values he has instilled in the people he worked with will continue to ensure his work continues with the same passion he had.

As said so well by the committee’s Deputy Chair Annabelle Hasselman, “tēnā rawa atu koe Evan, thank you very much”.

Some of Smith's other achievements include:

  • Founding member and spokesperson for the Avon-Ōtākaro Network.
  • Member of the Christchurch West Melton Water Zone Committee’s Recreation Working Group.
  • Liaising with Christchurch West Melton Water Zone Committee - reporting on activities of the Avon-Ōtākaro Network.
  • 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 focusing 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 Garden.
  • 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 online audit of their property’s stormwater set-up and raised awareness about how this impacts our waterways.
  • Submitting to Christchurch City Council on replacement Litter Booms in the Ōtākaro/Avon to collect the rubbish coming down from the city.

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