Ideas to consider and local examples of successful community-led projects.

Place-making ideas

Ideas to consider for your local neighbourhood and/or commercial centre.


Creating an artwork is a great way to meet your neighbours and get everyone involved in the beautification of the community.

For more information contact

Community clean-ups

Keeping your local neighbourhood and/or commercial centre clean and graffiti-free can help foster a sense of community ownership and improve the perception of safety.

Organising a community working bee to keep the area clean is a quick, easy and low-cost way to make a big impact.

The Council supports and provides advice to communities looking to address local graffiti issues, such as through the painting of a mural. 

Community gardens

Three people smile as they dig potatoes in a gardenCommunity gardens are a great way to unite communities around the production and sharing of food.

Although the more people that can help, the better, community gardens on shared land can be established by a small core group of people for relatively little cost.

Community plans

Communities know what they need. Each community will have different needs and abilities when developing and implementing their own community plan, to enhance a local commercial centre, for example. Community plans have a vision, actions and a prioritised implementation plan.

Community plans are not formally adopted by the Council, but can be recognised through promotion by community boards and can help guide decision-making by the Council and other agencies.

Actions involving physical projects (capital works) may require funding from the Council. This is normally done through the Council’s Long Term Plan (LTP), which is reviewed every three years.

The LTP outlines the activities, services and capital works the Council will provide, and when and how they will be financed, over the next 10 years.


Markets, festivals and other organised events can be fun ways of getting the community together.

Whether regular or one-off, markets are a great opportunity to promote your community’s economy, creativity and bring people together.

Markets can take a lot of energy to begin and maintain over time. Be sure to have a dedicated group of engaged vendors and helpers.

Festivals to promote a particular cause or activity can also be one-off or on-going events. These can take the form of activity weeks, art and culture events, or an awareness-raising day.

Community events, like a back yard BBQ, street party to celebrate Neighbours Day(external link) or a picnic in a local park, are an opportunity to meet your neighbours.

These informal events are a great way to learn about shared community values and aspirations. See the Council’s Central City event venues map and event resources

Temporary parklets

A render of a parklet featuring green false turf chairsYou can temporarily convert an on-street car park into a parklet. A parklet is a very small park or public space constructed in on-street car parks.

They are usually a small extension out from the footpath to the width of the adjacent car park, providing more space and amenities, such as café seating, for pedestrians.

They can provide a better business presence on the street, bring vibrancy to the immediate area and are also a quick and cheap way of trialling a proposed build-out or street upgrade.

Transform a vacant space

Vacant space in a community is often unattractive and can be a struggle to maintain.  It can begin to look overgrown and may accumulate rubbish.

Projects in vacant spaces create a sense of community ownership and bring vibrancy to the site.

There’s a range of organisations and options for funding your project that can help you shape a vacant space. 

Transform a business space

If one doesn’t already exist, start a business group or association to network, share information and resources, coordinate efforts and raise your business community’s profile/voice.

If your commercial centre already has an established business group or association, consider if a Business Improvement District (BID) is right for it.

Work together to:

  • Run a regular networking event to get to know your business community and residents.
  • Consider how your business group or association can support local job creation, business start-ups and social enterprise.
  • Develop an event and marketing/social media strategy to provide a focus and direction for promoting your commercial centre. This could include a ‘shop local(external link)’ campaign to get local businesses and residents supporting each other. 
  • Create a unique attraction that makes your commercial centre a destination that people seek out.

Consider temporarily leasing vacant premises to community groups who are looking for space for a place-making project. Contact Life in Vacant Spaces (LiVS)(external link) or

Local success stories

Examples of community-led place-making projects, and projects developed in partnership.

Barrington Park Playground rebuild

Top: a boy stands in front of a damaged playground. Bottom: a picnic to celebrate the new playgound.

Photographs supplied by Carys Monteath.

A community comes together to repair their local playground that was lost to an arson attack.

After the 2015 arson attack, the Council did not have the necessary funds available to fix the playground.

The community set up a Facebook page and nearby business Ray White also set up a Give-a-Little Page. 

The donations, along with support from the Lions South, Rata Foundation and (then) Spreydon-Heathcote Community Board, raised over half the cost of repairs.

The Council then agreed to underwrite the shortfall.

The play equipment was ordered, installed and a Teddy Bears’ Picnic was organised to celebrate the opening, which was attended by over 200 people.



Project led by Spreydon residents and businesses
Helpers 8 (a mixture of community, Council staff and elected members)
Project duration April – October 2015
Cost $40,000
Funded by
  • Crowd funding on Give-a-Little
  • Donations from Barrington Mall collection buckets, Lions South Christchurch and Canterbury Community Trust
  • Spreydon/Heathcote Community Board grant
  • The Council
Time to organise Approximately 8 months
Supported by
  • Local residents and businesses
  • NZ Police
  • Council's Capital Programme, Community Development and Recreation staff
  • Elected members

Burnside fitness trail

A man tries out new outdoor fitness equipmentA local business wanted to enhance the nearby park by adding some exercise equipment that residents had expressed an interest in having.

The business approached a member of the Fendalton-Waimairi-Harewood Community Board with a donation to fund the first station.

Burnside Park now has four stations, which has added a great resource for the community to use.



Project led by Commodore Hotel, Memorial Avenue
Helpers 3
Project duration Launched in October 2017
Cost $50,000
Funded by
  • The Commodore Hotel
  • Rotary Clubs of Avonhead, Bishopdale-Burnside and Riccarton
  • Fendalton-Waimairi-Harewood Community Board
Time to organise Approximately 4 years
Supported by
  • Rotary Clubs of Avonhead, Bishopdale-Burnside and Riccarton
  • Fendalton-Waimairi-Harewood Community Board

Connect 2016

A response to discord between permanent residents and new students moving into the Riccarton west area regarding parties, vandalism and litter.

The event brought together over 200 university students and permanent residents to Harrington Park to share a day of fun activities.

It aimed to connect people and build local partnerships and community alliances. Participants were encouraged to feel involved in their community, which has led to involvement in a variety of other projects.

Project led by Steve Jones (Sergeant, Neighbourhood Policing Team) and Carol Renouf (Oak Development Trust)
Helpers 6
Project duration February 2015 to February 2016
Cost $1,200
Funded by Halswell-Hornby-Riccarton Community Board's Discretionary Response Fund and donations from local organisations
Time to organise Approximately 4 months
Supported by
  • University of Canterbury
  • Oak Development Trust
  • Riccarton West Neighbourhood Support Group
  • Council's Parks Unit and Community Support and Governance Unit
  • Bunnings Warehouse.
  • NZ Institute of Sport

Harrington Park upgrades

Since 2012 the local community has regarded Harrington Park as a community hub and undertaken a number of place-making projects within it.

Each of these has taken place as various community members have identified a need and then gathered support from fellow residents to lead and enable the projects.

While each of the following projects has been separate, they have led to a greater sense of community ownership in the park, resulting in less vandalism and damage within the park.

1. Mural upgrade

Two murals on sign boards in a grassed area

By 2012, a mural on the western fence of the park painted in the 1990s by students from Wharenui Primary School was laden with graffiti.

A deputation by one of the former students still living in the area to the then Riccarton-Wigram Community Board launched the first park project.

After the local fire brigade water blasted the old mural off the fence, the community repainted it a neutral colour and installed mural panels made by Wharenui Primary and Kirkwood Intermediate Schools’ students.

Bunnings came to the party with the framing structure for the panels and assisted with the installation.

Project led by Peter Simmonds and Riccarton Neighbourhood Policing Team
Helpers 45
Project duration Five months during 2013-14
Cost $1,000 for the paint
Funded by Riccarton-Wigram Community Board's Discretionary Response Fund
Time to organise Approximately 12 months
Supported by
  • Riccarton West Neighbourhood Support Group
  • Resene
  • Riccarton West Neighbourhood Policing Team
  • Bunnings
  • Wharenui Primary School and Kirkwood Intermediate School
  • Riccarton–Wigram Community Board
  • Council's Parks Unit and Community Support and Governance Unit

2. Bulldozer upgrade

A man sits atop a bright yellow bulldozer in a park

A donated Antarctic bulldozer had seen better days after many years of use, so the community got together to restore it to its previous glory.

The bulldozer had been donated to the community and placed at Harrington Park in the early 1980s by Riccarton Rotary and the US Navy.

It had been based at McMurdo Station in the Antarctic and was returned to Christchurch as part of a repair programme with Goughs, which put it back together as a non-operational machine.

After many years of use the much-loved piece of play equipment was overdue for restoration.

Two local residents, Wayne and Ken, decided a paint and panel job was needed to restore it to its previous glory. They organised the restoration by gaining permission through the Council's Parks Unit, engaging with the local community and contacting local businesses for assistance.

Although the original plan was to do the work on-site with labour coming from members of the community, the original lead-based paint on the bulldozer meant that it had to be taken off-site.

Wayne and Ken organised a panel beating company to do the work, free of charge, using it as a teaching experience for young apprentices. They also negotiated for a crane to come to lift it off and then return it to the site.

Project led by Wayne Chaney and Ken Twemlow (local Riccarton residents)
Helpers 25
Project duration November 2016 to February 2017
Cost $645 for the crane and approximately $250 for a plaque and a celebration event
Funded by Halswell-Hornby-Riccarton Community Board's Ward Enhancement allocation
Time to organise Approximately 12 months
Supported by
  • Commercial Blast and Paint
  • NZ Coating Supplies
  • Riccarton West Neighbourhood Support Group
  • Council's Parks Unit and Community Support and Governance Unit
  • Riccarton Rotary

3. Toilet installation and painting

People painting a toilet block with bright colours

With the closest public toilets as far afield as either Westfield Mall or the Warehouse in Blenheim Road, many parents felt it was not worth taking their children to play in the park.

Council staff coached the community on how best to make a submission to Council's Annual and Long Term Plan processes and the installation of a toilet was included in the 2017-18 Annual Plan.

The Waipuna/Halswell-Hornby-Riccarton Community Board also contributed towards the electrical connections for the toilets.

Working with the Council's project team, the community was consulted on some appropriate designs and, at the park’s Community Day 2018, the community created artworks on two of the four walls.

The leaves of the tree outlined on one were made of the handprints of people, becoming the 'Handprints of Our Community'. The other wall was made up of a mosaic pattern which people contributed to painting.

The last wall was completed at the Community Day 2019. Messages of hello, peace and welcome were written on the wall in the over 65 languages of those present, forming ’The Languages of Our Community’.

Project led by Oak Development Trust
Helpers 400+
Project duration October 2018 – October 2019 (mural painting)

Annual Plan allocation - $115,000 

Waipuna/Halswell-Hornby-Riccarton Community Board – $9,950

Mural painting - $2,000

Funded by

Christchurch City Council – Annual Plan

Waipuna/Halswell-Hornby-Riccarton Community Board's Discretionary Response Fund

Christchurch City Council – Urban Renewal Fund

Time to organise Approximately 3 years
Supported by
  • Riccarton Community Church
  • Oak Development Trust
  • Council's Parks Unit, Urban Regeneration Team and Community Support and Governance Unit

Hidden Taonga – Discovering Ōtautahi

Taonga means treasure in Te Reo Māori and during the research and development for this walking tour of the Central City, many hidden taonga were discovered and explored.

In mid-2017 while on a visit to our inner city the project leaders wondered where all the people were.

About the same time, they were sad to hear and read in the media that locals, new migrants and tourists had an impression that Ōtautahi was a boring city.

They wanted to change impressions. They are also passionate about whānau moving more and doing physical activities together.

So they combined these passions and their idea for a guided treasure hunt was born. Their first treasure hunt was held in October 2017 - a two-hour walking tour, weaving around the Central City, learning and exploring our rich Māori and European heritage.

Project led by Grace Training NZ
Helpers Over 100 people, from eight nationalities and aged from 2 months to 87 years old
Project duration 14 to 15 October 2017
Cost Approximately $2,200
Funded by Social Enterprise Profit and a Council grant
Time to organise 3 months
Supported by
  • Active Canterbury Network
  • Ōtākaro Limited
  • Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu
  • Christchurch City Council

Koha Garden

People plant a new garden beside orange planters

Delivered in partnership with the Council, the Green Lab (formerly Greening the Rubble) teamed up with the community to develop temporary installations on vacant land in Linwood Village.

The Green Lab, in partnership with the Council and key community members, engaged with the Linwood community to create a social/gathering place and garden on a temporarily vacant section in the Linwood Village.

The project aimed to add a public amenity and improve aesthetics in the village while testing ideas for the future of the village.

The Green Lab worked with community members to foster connections, action and pride. Over the course of a year, community ideas became a design, a suitable site was arranged and the project was installed and opened.

The project was named Koha Garden by the locals and consists of a performance stage and seating area, creative play equipment, raised planters with edible plants and in-ground plantings including a wildflower zone.




Project led by The Green Lab
Helpers 9
Project duration 8 days, following the launched in May 2017
Cost $35,000 plus community contributions
Funded by Council's Enliven Places Programme grant
Time to organise Approximately 1 year
Supported by
  • Te Whare Roimata Trust
  • Menzshed New Brighton
  • City Mission
  • Life in Vacant Spaces
  • Local property owner

Little River, Big Ideas

A planning process led by the community and facilitated and enabled by the Council.

It gives a very active community a focus for the things it wants to do for itself and strengthens the networks that will enable them to happen.

This community plan outlines a range of important issues that the Little River community faces, as well as its aspirations for the future.

As a plan of action, its 'Big ideas' contain a range of activities and initiatives that can be delivered by people working together in Little River, as well as projects that will draw upon the support of other agencies. 

See Little River, Big Ideas for more information.

Project led by Little River Issues Working Party
Helpers 8 people were in the working party
Project duration February to November 2016
Cost Approximately $2,000 for developing the plan and significant working party contributions of time
Funded by Council funding of $15,000 (the remainder was converted to a grant for the Wairewa and Little River Community Trust for implementation)
Time to organise As above
Supported by
  • Stakeholders, including the local Wairewa Rūnanga
  • Council staff from the Community Governance and Urban Regeneration Teams
  • Environment Canterbury
  • Canterbury District Health Board
  • New Zealand Transport Agency
  • Department of Conservation
  • New Zealand Police

New Brighton Tiny Huts

The Council partnered with the New Brighton community to launch a competition for design ideas for the construction of five temporary, small-scale, playful installations named 'Tiny Huts'.

The design competition received over 100 entries. The five winning designs were built by the partnering construction companies.

When the project ended after summer 2017, the community voted to keep the huts around New Brighton.

While one had to be decommissioned, four have remained in new locations.


Project led by The Council
Helpers 5 community custodians and various Council staff
Project duration Launched in October 2016
Cost $60,000
Funded by
  • Council funding
  • Donations from industry partners
Time to organise Approximately 7 months
Supported by
  • Leighs Construction
  • Southbase Construction
  • Naylor Love Construction
  • Arrow International
  • Miles Construction

Shirley Shine 2016

The Shirley Shine event was established when research identified that the community did not feel safe in their local park.

The event has helped the community regain ownership of McFarlane Park and changed perceptions, so it is now thought of as a safe park to come and play.

The event also enables the community to connect, share information, create a sense of pride and place through fun, and have opportunities to celebrate, fundraise or try something new. 

Project led by Shirley Community Trust
Helpers 8 in the organising committee, 60 volunteers on the day
Project duration Annual event in November
Cost $6,000
Funded by
  • Various Trusts, sponsorship and donations
  • Papanui-Innes Community Board grant
Time to organise 11 months
Supported by
  • Rechurch
  • St Stephen's Anglican Church
  • Shirley Intermediate and Primary School
  • Shirley Rugby League Club
  • Palms Mall
  • Te Puna Oraka - Shirley Hub

Community asset mapping in the Latimer neighbourhood

The Latimer Neighbourhood is located in the east of the Central City between Fitzgerald Ave and Armagh, Manchester and Lichfield Streets. The neighbourhood experienced significant growth post-earthquake with residents attracted to live in the area for the close proximity to employment, activities and vibrancy. With an emerging identity the neighbourhood hadn’t yet developed a strong sense of community. 

This project sought to activate and strengthen neighbourhood and residents’ networks through community engagement. A process was developed to invite residents to share their skills, interests and contact information. This information was compiled as a Neighbourhood Book and was used as a tool to connect people based on their interests. Several neighbourhood events were organised to enable people to meet their neighbours and begin to connect over shared passions. As a result, a group of residents have become more connected to work together on projects in their neighbourhood (e.g. setting up regular events).

Residents wanting to undertake a similar exercise are able to access the materials for this project from the Project 8011 webpage.

Project led by Gap Filler and neighbourhood residents
Helpers The Council
Project duration March 2021 – December 2022
Cost $30,000
Funded by The Council
Time to organise 3 months
Supported by
  • Linwood-Central Heathcote Community Board
  • Te Whare Roimata
  • Christchurch East School
  • Anglican Church/Transitional Cathedral
  • Fletcher Living
  • Base Pizza