DiversCity: Community Showcase Project

Dates: November 2016 – Current

Project Description

DiversCity was a series of  several community-led projects which aimed to showcase the cultural diversity of Christchurch. Korean, Fijian-Indian, Chinese and Nigerian communities were been involved to realise collaborative projects which showcased aspects of their culture for the wider public.

For Gap Filler, this project was about celebrating our city’s diversity and bringing greater visibility to cultural communities. Members of the communities involved said that the opportunity to work with Gap Filler on a project gave them the chance to be seen in the city beyond their own cultural festival and contribute to how Christchurch is perceived.

A common theme was also to encourage members of cultural communities to participate in something that took them beyond their usual community. We learned a lot about other cultures and how to work successfully with members of these communities. The ways in which we communicate, relate and even our expectations and priorities are all rather culturally specific and it was great to be challenged on that a bit.

The projects ranged from K-Pop performances to table tennis, a contemplative space and public board games and were developed in collaboration with members of various cultural communities. All phases took place outside in public spaces.

Project Details

Project Number: 73
Dates: November 2016 – Current
Location: Various Locations, Central City
Values: Community Engagement, Collaboration, Leadership & Creativity
Partners: CCBA,  Korean Association, Nigerian Canterbury Association
Sponsors: Rotary, New Zealand Red Cross, COGS

#1 – KPOP (Korea)

The first project that Gap Filler supported was heats for K-Pop – a Korean song and dance performance competition – held  at the Dance-O-Mat on November 5, 2016. The aim was to make the event more accessible and visible to the greater Christchurch public, encouraging more people to enter and watch.
“The Korean community dispersed after the earthquakes, we thought this was a great initiative to bring the community back together. And it’s fun!” says Chai KIm, the event organiser.

Thank you to Chai Kim and the whole Korean Association for their support of this phase.

Special thanks to:
Special Thanks to; Robbin Wang (Chinese Cultural Association), Jane, Helen, Tracey McKeefry and Corty Denton from PSP Ltd for the ‘nets’. C Lund & Son. Therapy, Cosmic, The Warehouse ; for their support of this phase.

Read interviews about collaborators’ experiences being a part of Diverscity here: Jamie Mcgregor, table designer C Lund & Son. Richard Harcourt of SplitN2 and Robin Wang, President of Chinese Culture Association.

#2 – Ping Pong (China)

The next instalment of Diverscity was Ping Pong and launched on December 10, 2016 with three table tennis tables in the city. They were located at the western end of Cashel Mall and remained there til mid Winter, 2017. 

This project was undertaken in collaboration with the Chinese Cultural Association (NZ) Inc as a way to showcase aspects of Chinese culture. Three innovative concrete table tennis tables, created by local company C Lund & Son, were available for public use any time over the summer with BYO bats and balls or option to borrow them from a nearby local business for a refundable deposit. Click here for details.

Feedback via Facebook has included comments such as: “It was lovely to see two of your table tennis tables in use when I walked past tonight. They brought life to an area that can feel a bit desolate and threatening after dark.” “Every time I go past they are all being used and people are waiting for a game.” “Such fun for all whether watching others play or having a go yourself.”

One of the aims of the project was also to test new ways to use our city’s public spaces.

Carolyn Ingles, head of urban design, urban regeneration and heritage at Christchurch City Council was excited to see the high use of the ping pong tables while they were in place. She says, “It’s great to have seen so many people using the tables — kids during the holidays, construction workers during lunch breaks and tourists discovering one more thing that makes Christchurch so special. The tables have proven to be an excellent way to test a temporary intervention in a public space, and to see just how popular and meaningful it can be.”

Ping pong for public use continues to live on with one of the tables having been relocated to The Commons at the end of September 2017 and Christchurch Airport has added two outdoor ping pong tables to its outdoor plaza.

“We loved seeing the life Gap Filler’s Ping Pong project brought to the area near Re:START and the Bridge of Remembrance” says Justin Watson, Chief Aeronautical and Commercial Officer at Christchurch International Airport. “We believe the tables will continue to do the same out here. We always want to improve our visitors’ experiences and help make the airport feel like a welcoming and friendly place. We also like the idea of showcasing some of the creative projects, such as those by Gap Filler going on in Christchurch city, to our millions of visitors.”



#3 – Ayoayo (Nigeria)

This phase has seen the organisation work with members of the Nigerian Canterbury Association to create a mancala board. Known as an Ayoayo in Nigeria, mancala is a game that involves moving pieces or seeds from ‘dishes’ usually carved into a piece of wood.

Local woodworker, Jim Goodwin has been the main woodcarver creating the mancala from a giant log that was kindly donated to the project by Tree Tech. The log is part of one of the black poplar trees that was felled in Hagley Park earlier this year.

Dennis Agelebe, President of the Nigerian Canterbury Association says of the project:

The Gap Filler organisation is doing wonderful work, we’re really pleased to be involved in creating this AyoAyo game.

The aim behind DiversCity is to showcase some of our city’s migrant communities and increase their visibility in the city. Frequently, cultural offerings are events which although fun and interesting, are only on for a day or two. These projects offer something of a longer duration.

This is the third project in Gap Filler’s DiversCity series. The first project involved working with members of the Korean community on a public K-pop event in November last year. The second phase in DiversCity was Ping Pong – the three, very popular, public ping pong tables located near the bridge of Remembrance from December 2016 – June 2017. This involved collaborating with the Chinese Cultural Association. Two of these ping pong tables are now located at the airport in their outdoor areas for people to enjoy.

“We’ve learned a lot by doing these projects. Each community we’ve worked with has required us to work in different ways, taking into account cultural differences. It’s been pleasing how well received they’ve all been” says Damian Doyle, Gap Filler Project Developer.

Ayoayo was situated on the West side of the Otakaro/Avon River, between Worcester and Hereford Streets from November 2017 until March 2018. After the project finished the game was given to Ilam Primary School.



#4 – Lali drum (Fiji)

The Lali drum is an important aspect of traditional Fijian culture. Previously used during wartime, today they are used for community purposes such as to call a meeting together.

This public installation was in collaboration with the Canterbury Fiji Community and the Christchurch Fiji Association (CFCESSA). It aims to celebrate and give more prominence to the diverse communities that make up Christchurch.