Halswell Domain

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

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Have you ever thought about buying an electric car or bike?

We hear a lot about climate disruption and the heating up of the air that supports us. Transport is a large part of the issue.  Trouble is that we live in a world where we need to get around – so what can we do about it?  It turns out, quite a lot, and we have local people who can help us out.

Electric bikes are taking the City by storm and allowing not particularly fit people, like me, to bike all over the City, avoid getting stuck in traffic and avoid parking hassles.  They also allow their riders to arrive at meetings dressed well  and looking cool, calm and collected.  On wet days good wet weather gear helps a lot.  Riders can ride past all the stuck traffic, to arrive at work on time, in good spirits and … dry!  A few also have found they can tow a bike trailer for carrying larger loads, and all this for the cost of about 0.1-0.2 cents per km in power. The kilometres add up too – I bought an electric bike last year and covered about 6000km on it.  Imagine what that would have cost in petrol alone). Even better I bought my bike from someone who lives and works very close to Halswell (check out EcoAnts at http://eco-ants.co.nz/)

Nissan Leaf
OK … I realise that for many of you, the idea of riding a bike is just a move too far.  But what about getting an electric car?  Although they won't save you from getting stuck in traffic or having to find and pay for a park, they have a good range for round town purposes, they have a much smaller carbon footprint that petrol cars and cost much less to run.  For people who are interested in reducing their carbon footprint, these are a step in the right direction.   For those who aren’t too sure, how about trying one out first? Blue Cars have an electric car available for hire from a place about 6km from Halswell on the way to Tai Tapu.  (Find out more about electric cars and renting a Blue Car at  https://bluecars.nz/?v=6cc98ba2045f).

Thursday, April 21, 2016


When you walk into Te Hāpua: Halswell Centre, the sheer physical size of the building is a little intimidating. Although we have watched the building process evolve, I think we still pinch ourselves that this magnificent architecturally designed building has arrived in Halswell, which not long ago was considered a village by many of the residents who live here.

As we enter the library, we are struck by the natural light and spaciousness and the cheerful, modern décor with its tasteful, uncluttered displays. And while our former library embraced families and children, there are now at times children running through the library without the least feeling of disturbance. Others are playing foosball, Play Station games or the latest board games.

Reading children still abound, but they might be next to a giant teddy bear or swinging in a bubble chair. Young students fill the Learning Centre eagerly doing technology based activities and there are others in the Makerspace that is fully equipped with an electronic drum kit and keyboard. Many of the computers are in use, as are some of the spaces where you can plug in your own laptop.

Pre-schoolers play in the central area which has large cushioned couches while Mums, Dads and Grandparents eagerly grab the chance to chat. The days of when a library was a place when everyone had to be silent so the readers could read are long gone and that had meant shorter stays for caregivers. Here people are lingering much longer. The sheer volume of activities means boredom is eliminated and minutes and even hours can pass by quickly.

The number of resources available is also perhaps a little overwhelming. We have now have access to 45,000 items, sixteen free internet computers, one family history computer, three dedicated children's computers and thirty Learning Centre computers. The latest equipment has to be mastered by new staff, as well the public who are trying it all out. Some of the skills that can be mastered here are creating 3D prints, Lego animations, musical CDs and DVDs.

There are after school classes, Computer Literacy day time classes for adults and programmes designed for the local schools. Prior to the new library opening, it was often said that there weren't a lot of spaces in our community that were youth centred. That complaint has been completely abolished. While the library has been designed for all residents, the planners have clearly understood and designed for their younger users.

Having seven meeting rooms of different sizes in Te Hāpua: Halswell Centre means that the public are also arriving for other various community activities such as Yoga/ Pilates, Weight Watchers and for residents who have been a little while in Halswell, it will be hard to not bump into people who they know here. Perhaps this is the greatest achievement of the Halswell centre is that it is providing a place like the traditional market square, where you meet and greet the people who we live with. This had been sorely lacking in Halswell and the supermarket was never really designed to be a place to chat.

Halswell's new Te Hāpua: Halswell Centre is a fine engineering feat, a community centre, an educational facility and an entertainment complex, but in a sense it represents much more than that. Te Hāpua: Halswell Centre symbolises the post-earthquake journey of this area: the enormous expansion into this area and the repair and replacement of damaged buildings. It represents a new era of living here: an era that is preparing itself for the large population that is settling here and all the new opportunities that that brings for all of us to embrace.

Familiar Faces: The Pandya Family

If you regularly drop into the very busy Halswell Dairy at 456 Halswell Road, the Pandya family will be familiar to you as you will have met  Gee  or his wife Neha or Gee's parents Arun and Uma. You may have also bumped into Neha at Halswell school where   ten year old son Shivam and  five year old daughter, Saanui attend.
The Pandyas are originally from Vadodara, (formerly Baroda) - a city of 2.3 million in the Western Indian State of Gujarat, India.   They have found themselves living on the other side of the world because after finishing a Bachelor of Science degree, Gee looked around for a "good opportunity in a country with a favourable exchange rate." He found New Zealand and   the Halswell Dairy and purchased it in 2004.   Gee then went back home to marry Neha and then together they returned here.

Running the Halswell dairy means that Gee and his family are busy and spending long hours working.  Even in in the short time that we are speaking, Gee has gone out to the shop to serve a steady stream of customers arriving at 10 o’clock in the morning.  It is hard to imagine that they would find time to do anything else given the long opening hours. Gee, however, explains that there is some flexibility in their lifestyle compared to a regular nine to five job. The Pandyas get some help at the shop and do enjoy some leisure time.  Gee plays cricket for the Burnside Strikers; Neeha goes swimming and to yoga and they all attend the Hindu temple in Papanui each Sunday.  One year, they found the time to go on an island cruise.

Gee's parents, Arun and Uma, came to live with his family in 2007.  Interestingly, after raising their family in Vadodara, they now have a modern day global family as their other children have left India too. Arun and Uma's daughter and family live in Melbourne and their other son and family are in Chicago.  This, of course, has given them good reason to travel and they have enjoyed travelling to Canada, the USA and Australia.

Living in other cities for short periods of time, Arun and Uma have come to really appreciate and love Christchurch. They believe that "this is where they are happiest because of the slower pace of life" and say that "because of the size of the city, people are friendlier and nicer."  They have also noted that among their friends, almost all of those who returned to India, have come back to live in New Zealand again.

Gee's "good opportunity" has become far more than a business plan.  Living and working in Halswell has given them a more relaxed lifestyle which has brought contentment, and happiness to their   family as a whole.  The Pandya family have all 'fallen in love' with New Zealand, especially Christchurch and they plan to stay. 

WORDS: Deb Harding Browne