Halswell Domain

Halswell Domain
View from the Model Engineers' site in the Halswell Domain

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What do you think is unique or interesting about Halswell?

Lake in Quarry Park
Halswell is a growing area and sometimes I'm left with the feeling that it is a bit of a 'nothing' place, even though I grew up here and I returned here a few years ago.   But is it a nothing place?

When I look around the first thing that I think makes Halswell interesting is the Quarry Park.  I also really like and value the Kennedys Bush Track up to the Summit Road and that connects with the Quarry via a few different routes.

Many people I've spoken to about this tell me that the Quarry is something that they regard as unique to Halswell and something that makes it a special place.

Over the last few years I have spent some time wandering around Halswell and thinking about the question of what is interesting here.  One of the the things that I've noticed is how "watery" the place is.

Halswell is the place where the Heathcote arises (and runs out to the Estuary) and it is also the place where the Halswell River arises (and runs out to Lake Ellesmere).  Nottingham Stream starts near Westlake and runs through the Westlake and Oaklands areas before heading down behind Junction Rd and Halswell Road before emerging again at Muir Park.

There are lakes and retention ponds all over the place when you start looking.  There are the new retention ponds being built in Sparks Rd. and around Awatea Road in Wigram.  There is a Lake in the Quarry (that also acts as a retention pond).  There are lakes in Curletts Reserve out the back of Aidanfield.  There is a Lake in our Domain out near the Model Railway, and there are retention ponds on either side of Halswell Road around Aidanfield.  There is Westlake in Westlake park which is pretty big.  Even though Christchurch has 100s of named waterways (yes, really.  Hundreds!), how many other parts of Christchurch have so many lakes and retention ponds around the place?

But this is just me thinking this.  What are the things that YOU think make Halswell interesting and unique?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Would you like to see Farmer’s/ Craft market in Halswell?

Would you like to see a regular farmer’s market in Halswell?
A few attempts have been made to get a Halswell Market off the ground.  So far none have succeeded.  Why?  A number of reasons, probably.

1) Halswell faces some issues in having State Highway 75 running through the middle of it, and you can't run  markets on or near this without being required to have traffic management (which costs thousands of dollars every time).  

2) there is quite a bit of time and money involved in getting consent to run a market from the CCC.  They have to be convinced that there is adequate parking and that the market will not represent a nuisance to the neighbours, wherever it is held.

3) it is not easy and is even more expensive to get consent to run a market on publically owned land.  

As you can see there is quite a bit of work in sorting out these issues and on top of that getting consent as easily as possible is likely to cost in the region of $4000-$5000, so, if we are going to have a go at this, we really want to know if the market will fly and what sort of interest there is amongst Halswell residents.  Of course our funders will want to know this too.  

So, at this stage we are trying to get an idea of what people think about the idea, when the market should be and what people would like to buy there but running a short (5-10 minute) survey asking those kinds of questions.  The survey is also a place where you can offer help or indicate your interest in having a stall.
If you would like to see a market in Halswell, then you can help by clicking here and filling in the survey.  Do it soon!  

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Ideas for stuff in Halswell?

A group of us got together recently and thought about the sorts of things we might like to see around Halswell that provide fun ways for people to get together and get to know each other.  Some of these things are already happening in small pockets but could we make them happen more broadly.

  • A regular  Halswell farmers and or craft Market 
  • Swap-a events similar to the ones we have already run!
  • Fix-it days where people bring stuff along and get help with fixing it from bikes to clothes to electrical gear
  • Local barbecue events/ Christmas parties
  • A Timebank
  • A Community garden.
  • Competitions between different subdivisions in Halswell - eg in potato growing!
  • Community-built Habitat House projects
  • Community Art projects 

Our biggest question is what do other people in Halswell think?   
What do you think of these ideas? 
Have you got any ideas for what you'd like to see?

Monday, September 3, 2012

More on placemaking

I've already written a wee bit about placemaking here where I talk about the "Power of 10".  However, there are other ways to think about "making places" and these might be important given the base material that we have to work with in Halswell.
I came across this piece that reflects on the question how do we create public spaces which encourage strangers to interact?

Reading this, I was reminded me of the idea of flashmobs - the one of the best ones I've seen is this one in Auckland which turns a pedestrian area into a dance floor.  Maybe we should suggest that the Halswell Drama Group sets up a flashmob outside the supermarket to advertise their productions!

What else?  Another possible way of doing something is developing a market in Halswell.  Thanks to Council processes this is quite an involved, and expensive business, but it is possible.  Some folk are currently looking into how we might get over the consent hurdles and set up something regular here (watch this space for developments!).  In the meantime, we have are our intermittent swap-a events (next one coming up on 29th Sept - check out details on this page).

A Greening the Rubble site 
I've wondered about approaching the supermarket and suggesting that they might provide a small space in their carpark for some plants and seats or some artwork and seats where people can sit with a coffee, or staff could sit for lunch.
And perhaps there are a number of other places where something could be done to draw people into our public spaces - even our privately-owned public spaces?

And what about display space for community artworks?  I"m sure there are places say at some of the churches where it would be possible to set up outdoor display space where we could run occasional events to make some kind of artwork.

What do you think?

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

New Library and Multi-Purpose Community Centre on its way - Have Your Say!

Anyone keenly studying the fine print of the Council's 2012-13 Annual Plan will have spotted the inclusion of the Halswell Library and a Suburban Community Centre for the area in the Capital Projects budget. As Council staff reach for projections data and other handy statistics, poising their coloured pens in mid-air, we invite you to join us. Help us imagine the Halswell of the future, and help us plan and design for the needs of the community in these coming years of growth and rapid change - socially, environmentally and structurally.

Who will make up the Halswell community in 5, 10, 20 and 30 years time? What will their lifestyle be like? What will their social, recreational and work activities involve? What kinds of facilities and services will be needed to support these activities? And what do we want these to look and feel like?

Your input into what Halswell people want from a library and community centre, now and in the future, is vital to ensure this facility meets community needs for current generations and those to come. So, come join us: over August we'll be gathering initial input into this project.

The Halswell Liaison Group is hosting a Community Workshop from noon-1.15pm on Wednesday 8 August at the Halswell Baptist Church in Balcairn St (changed from what was advertised in the newsletter). It would be great to see you there.

If you can't make it to this, you can pop along to another Community Workshop from 6.30pm-8.30pm on Wednesday 22 August at Oaklands School Music Room, Cunningham Place, or a Family Fun and Drop-In from 1pm-4pm on Sunday 26 August at St Luke's Union Church, 436 Halswell  Road.  Also, keep your eyes open for an online survey that will be doing the rounds.

Or: why not pop in and have a chat to your friendly local librarians at the Halswell Library who are also very excited about this project and eager to hear your ideas?

How about hosting your own conversation with your whanau/family, club, association, group, business, organisation or neighbourhood and letting us know what you think? I'm currently putting together a sheet of ideas, including questions and activities, and am very happy to help you out. Keep an eye out for this and drop me a line at sharon.moreham@ccc.govt.nz or call me on 941-6451 or 358-3535 with any questions or suggestions. Both myself and the Libraries staff are available for visits if this would be helpful.

But here, on this blog is a perfect place to get the conversation started. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas...

Warm wishes, Sharon

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Plans for Transport in Halswell

At the Halswell Liaison Group meeting in May, the head of one of the local schools noted that difficulties that they are having getting children across Halswell Road to use the domain sports fields and the Pool. 

At the June meeting, we had Ryan Cooney from NZTA come to talk to us about Halswell Road.  NZTA look after State Highways and Halswell Road is SH75.   At this stage, NZTA have 4 laning in the long term plan but there is nothing definite in the way of dates etc.

We had quite a lot of discussion about speed limits and there are some question about why the speed limit through Halswell is 60km per hour when crossing the road is such a necessity for getting between different community facilities and other communities have a 50km/hr limit through their place.  

Another question that came up was how do NZTA make decisions about what happens to Halswell Road (and other State Highways).  He talked about the idea of the best outcomes for "New Zealand Inc."  There may be criteria for making these kinds of decisions but it is not clear quite what they are.  I felt that the most critical question was 'Which has priority in the planning process - the good (safety and access to community facilities) of the local community or the good (speed) of the people driving through?"  Ryan was unable to answer that mainly because he is not privy to how these decisions are made.

It seems to me that, as a community, it would pay for us to be aware of these issues and to get involved in planning processes so that we keep the needs of the local community in the minds of transport planners as much as possible when they are making their plans.

What do you think?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Placemaking in Halswell

What do you think of our place in Halswell?  How do you meet people here?  Where are the public spaces where you can bump into people?  How do we create public spaces where people can meet, hang out, and enjoy the ambience?  What would we need to create to draw people into these spaces? 
These are the sorts of questions that the art of  Placemaking  aims to answer. The “power of 10” is one principle that we could think about to make our places more attractive. 

What is the power of 10?  Well … the idea is that a place has about 10 things to draw people – these can be quite simple things eg seating, shops, play areas, trees/ garden areas, art works, music, history, food.   The thing is that there is a mixture of things - just having 10 shops does not make a place attractive in the sense of allowing people to hang out.  Likewise 10 artworks probaby won't do it on their own either.  A great place caters for the very young and the very old as well as those in between.  Events can also help to make a place more of a place by drawing people in at regular intervals. 

The Power of 10 also applies to suburbs – an attractive suburb has about 10 places with about 10 things,  and attractive city might have about 10 suburbs with 10 places with 10 things .. and so on.   

To me, the principle of the power of 10 is something that could help us start thinking about how to build great community spaces in Halswell.  How might we work with the supermarket etc to make the space around it more attractive?  Could we have some space there for trees, art, play facilities, seating – some space that is free of cars and designed for people to hang out?  What would it take and how would it make Halswell feel?  One thing is sure. I'd spend more time and probably more money there if it were fun to go there!  What about you?


Thursday, May 24, 2012

The First Halswell Swap-a

The very first Halswell swap-a happened last Saturday afternoon. 

A good number of people showed up with clothes, veges, fruit, books, seeds and toys and, with very few exceptions, they all left with some goodies in their bag.  It was great fun. 
 I enjoyed checking out clothes and then discovering the person who had brought them along!  Alex, who brought a great supply of seeds he had saved (along with a huge box of yummy grapes), was a mine of information about vege gardening, seed saving and sowing. 
The baking and hot drinks went down well (thanks to Kathryn who spent a lot of time making tea and coffee amongst all sorts of other things).  Phil’s boxes of books provided great pickings for Mike and quite a few others.
People chatted and seemed in no hurry to leave and we finally packed things up around 3.30 after our 1.00 pm start.   
A very big thank you to the folks at St Lukes who lent us their great venue for the afternoon, and to the organisers for running with this idea.
One thing that we didn't do very much of was talk about a timebank ... so perhaps that is something for next time.Another good thing to be talking about would be a local market.  The swap-a had quite a market feel to it and personally, I'd like to see more of this kind of thing around Halswell. 

We will be doing this again, probably sometime in the early spring - keep an eye on the newsletter for date and time!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Aoraki-spotting from Halswell

OK, you can’t quite see it from Halswell… depending how you define Halswell!  But if you walk or bike for a bit (or even drive, if you must) it isn’t too difficult.

The details were provided to me years ago at Castle Rock by the late Phil Stuart-Jones, who got pretty sophisticated with compass bearings and sightlines, but I will aim to convince you without any of that stuff.

Aoraki/Mt Cook is about 196 km from our house in Halswell, almost exactly due west.  He’s a big fella though, and should be easily visible with the naked eye.  The key to it is to find Mt Somers.  Mt Somers is indicated by the arrow in the photo below (taken from Cooper’s Knob, with Gibraltar Rock and Tai Tapu in the foreground).  It’s one of the most obvious foothills, an unequal triangle with an easy-angled side on the right.  That's Mt Hutt on the extreme right under the clouds.

Next let’s see Aoraki from close up without much in the way.

That's Aoraki on the left, Mt Tasman on the right, from Malte Brun Pass.  This is the eastern view of the mountain, which is what we are looking for.

Now let’s have a look at Aoraki (indicated by the arrow) from the top of Mt Somers.  I think you can see it's about the same shape.  Keep an eye on the ice cap on the right of the summit that is in the sun.

Since Mt Somers is pretty close to due west from Halswell also, the view of Aoraki that we see from Halswell should be pretty similar to the one from Mt Somers.

So now let’s zoom in a bit on the first image.  The arrow on the right points to Mt Somers, and the arrow on the left to Aoraki.  As you can see it looks much the same, although a bit more hidden by the intervening ridge.  The piece of ice cap on the right at the top looks identical.  Pretty good eh!

Aoraki can be easier to spot in summer, when the ranges in the foreground don’t have so much snow; then, it is the only white one (although viewing can be quite a lot hazier at that time of year).  Where it appears relative to Mt Somers depends on which part of the hills you are on.  If you head towards Gebbies Pass from the top of Kennedys Bush Track it will appear on the left of Mt Somers, as shown.  I suppose a pair of binoculars or a telescope would make it better, but they definitely aren't essential.

Happy spotting!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Timebanking - something to think about in Halswell?

Timebanks are growing in popularity.  There are timebanks now in Lyttelton, Belfast, New Brighton, and Addington, to name a few.

A timebank is  a way to swap skills with others in the same community based on time.  The beauty of them is that you don't have swap directly between two people.  So, for example, Joe enjoys gardening, Alice might enjoy sewing and Marie likes babysitting.  Each of them registers with the timebank.   Alice notices Joe's offer and gets him around to do a couple of hour's gardening.  Joe does not need any sewing done at this stage, but he really needs someone to look after his kids so he contacts Marie.  After babysitting for Joe, Marie is now in credit for 2 hours.  She has some clothes that need mending so she contacts Alice who can fix them for her.  That way Alice earns some hours which help "pay" for Joe's gardening.   The great thing is that each of these people gets to do more of what they enjoy and less of what they don't.
People can offer a wide range of services - as the market page on the Addington Timebank site suggests from helping someone with facebook or their computer to providing gardening advice, running errands, cutting hair or delivering pamphlets or newsletters.  With a timebank, the skills you offer cannot be the same ones that you use to make money, so if you are a gardener who earns taxable income doing gardening, you can't offer that in the Timebank.

Timebanks are a great way to help people get to know each other and to know what skills are available locally too. Community organisations can register as a timebank member and in many places people can donate the time that they earn to these groups or even to other people if they want to.  Check out this video made in Lyttelton about timebanking.

 Are you interested in this idea?  If you are, come along to the Swap-a event at 1.00 pm on Saturday 19th May at St Lukes Church in Halswell Road to talk about this more and exchange clothes, baking, preserves or even veges.

Friday, April 27, 2012

A bike ride from Halswell

Someone suggested that I could write this post as a trial for the new Halswell community website.  I think the relevance of it to Halswell might be a bit tenuous, unless you are interested in knowing about some quiet roads west for cycling; or perhaps you might be interested in the antics of a crazy scientist who likes to fly off mountains (that’s not me, I hasten to add).  If so, read on.

My friend Michael from Dunedin is a paraglider.  He and his wife Karen are the only ones I know personally, and true to form Michael threw himself into the sport with all the energy of a freight train, persevering after shredding his glider on a gorse bush (“I could kick my butt for an hour”) and even after collapsing the glider metres off the ground and ending up in plaster.  Obviously, spending time in his company while he has these adventures is potentially entertaining, so I was quick to agree when he suggested a trip up Mt Torlesse, near Springfield, which he would then fly off (and I would watch from the safety of terra firma).

According to the original plan, he would stay with us Friday night in Halswell.  However, the plan changed during Friday: we would now meet in Springfield on Saturday morning. I shrugged and thought “might as well bike then”.

The drawbacks of my new plan weren’t that apparent until 0530.  The prelude to a perfect autumn day was a fog so thick you could lose your hands in it.  In fact, I nearly lost Quaifes Rd a few times before reaching the bit where there are a few painted lines to follow while you’re pedalling.  Quaifes is a good route to Templeton, and from there SH1 must be followed for a bit to the Cookie Time factory.  The first right after that is Kirk Rd; turn left off this near the prisons onto Newton Rd, then take Weedons Ross Rd (where the fog ended, thankfully) to West Melton.  Early on Saturday morning you will probably get there without having seen a moving car.

An alternative to Weedons-Ross Rd, which would save 8 km on the main West Coast Rd, would be Railway Rd.  However, it isn’t sealed, and by that time I was falling behind schedule, thanks to the fog.  Some grim determination on the straights to Darfield was warranted in order to claw back some time.  It is 45 km from Halswell to Darfield, which is about 1.5 hrs on a bike with a bit of gear.  Then I realised that Sheffield was 10 km further than I thought – time for some more grim determination.  I eventually rolled in to Springfield 3 minutes late after 70 km.  Michael hadn’t realised I was biking, but he said “I would have bet my salary on that”.  Damn, have I become that predictable?

Michael introduced me to his companion (and PhD student) Stefan.  It turned out that Stefan had extensive Red Cross experience.  “Some paragliders bring a film crew, but I take a paramedic.”  Clearly Michael himself was worried about the entertainment potential of his little adventure.   

The walk up the Kowai River to the old research huts was very pleasant, particularly from my position of companion-at-leisure, unburdened by the weight of the paraglider.  My own bag was light by necessity for the bike ride, and although I offered to take a turn with the sack, I already knew the offer would be refused – so I can’t really claim to be an altruist.  Once heading up the mountain – about a 1300 m height gain from the road – I could relax periodically in the gentle autumn sun while waiting for a sweating madman weighed down with kit. 

We really were lucky with the day.  Only the slightest of northeast breezes blew on top; most of my prior visits to Torlesse’s peak were in howling gales, when the weather was too bad to do anything further west.  Michael laid out his glider, careful to ensure that none of the strings (I’m using the technical terms here) were tangled or caught on stones.  He handed over a two-way radio for contact on landing, had a bite to eat, took off impressively, and proceeded straight down the valley.

I recorded a very budget video on my cell phone (if I’d known how bad the quality would be I would have made the effort to take my proper camera).  Nevertheless in this short clip you can see Michael launch, then fly in front of Junction Peak and Red Peak, past the Gap and Castle Hill Peak before escaping the attention of the 1.3 megapixels.  It isn’t worth expanding to full screen size, trust me.

Stefan related stories of his Red Cross and SAR career on the way down the hill.  These skills wouldn’t be needed that day, which was good news for us but bad for the journalists.  It wasn’t long before a crackle came over the radio, with the words “the chicken has landed”.  “Looked more like a turkey to me,” I remarked.  I learned later that Michael had hit a thermal and flown high enough to get vertigo – hence a quick descent and the reference to poultry.  He’s a brave man, putting so much trust in a glorified hanky, though apparently not as brave as a friend-of-a-friend, who flew a paraglider through the Gap itself (by coincidence we saw a helicopter do just that not long after Michael’s departure).

After an hour or two we regained the carpark to find Michael eating, reading, and lying in bed in the back of the van.  A seasoned campaigner, obviously.  He seemed happy with his flight – a definite improvement over a recent attempt to fly off a mountain near Queenstown.  The wind had been so strong that they had carried the gliders back down again.

To get home, I bludged a lift to Charing Cross.  From there, a quick ride along Wards Rd took me to Rolleston without many cars at all (on northeasterly days this route also offers some protection from the wind, although 8 km straight into it at the end is the penalty).  Rolleston to Templeton is not a nice ride: either you share SH1 with the trucks (I’d like to see traffic engineers maintain the wide shoulder at passing lanes) or you take Jones Rd (which is quieter but narrower and the cars can get a bit close).  I’m pretty sure the former is safer, actually.

Then I was back on Quaifes Rd from Templeton, and home, tuckered out.  Hats off to my good friend Michael for getting out there and doing the flight – and if you’ve made it this far through the story, hats off to you too!

- Phil N

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


This blog is an experiment.  It is set up so that a number of people can contribute.  If you are interested in putting up a post then email me and I'll add you as an author.  It would be great to have a group of people who are interested in posting occasionally about things of some relevance locally, whether they be about concerns, events, ideas for what we might get up to in Halswell, and just things that are happening elsewhere that look interesting.

This is a community blog, so please identify yourself with your real name when you do comment.  Likewise, if you want to contribute you will have to do so using your own name.

Chrys H