DiversCity: Community Showcase Project

A series of four projects working with a range of ethnic communities to bring diversity, connection and a more enduring presence for some of our ethnic communities to the rebuilding city of Christchurch. 

Celebrating our diversity

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. Cultural events and festivals are common in Christchurch (like the Chinese Lantern Festival and Diwali) but they are ephemeral and don’t foster particularly deep connections. DiversCity hoped to give some of our ethnic communities greater visibility in the city by being of a longer duration and contributing something of their culture to the cityscape. 

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.

#1 K-Pop (Korea)

November 2016

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. Lots and lots of people busted out their best moves in this fun, lively event full of great tunes and choice dance moves. 
“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.

#2 Ping Pong (China) 

December 2016 – April 2017

For this project worked with the Chinese Cultural Association and installed three concrete table tennis tables with bats and balls at the western end of Cashel Mall. The tables saw a great deal of use and they helped enliven this part of the city.

Feedback via Facebook 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 after dark” and “Every time I go past they are being used and people are waiting for a game.” 

One of the aims of the project was also to test new ways to use public space. 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. 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.”

Who, what, where, when

Date: December 2016 – April 2018

Locations:  Various in the city, Oxford Terrace, Gloucester Street

Client/Funder: Christchurch City Council

Key people: Chai Kim, Robin Wang, Jim Goodwin, Dennis Agelebe

Values: Experimentation, Collaboration

Support/Sponsors:  Korean Association, Chinese Cultural Association & Jane, Helen, Tracey & Cory from PSP, C Lund & Son, Cosmic, The Warehouse, Nigerian Canterbury Association, Christchurch Fiji Association

#3 Ayoayo (Nigeria)

March 2017 – November 2017

Working with the Nigerian Canterbury Association we created 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 made use of a fallen black poplar from Hagley Park to create the mancala which was donated to the project by Tree Tech. 

Dennis Agelebe, President of the Nigerian Canterbury Association said of the project: “The Gap Filler organisation is doing wonderful work, we’re really pleased to be involved creating this AyoAyo game.”

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 (Fijian Indian) 

January 2018 – Winter 2018

This time we worked with the Fijian Indian community to create a Lali drum. 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 and celebrate. This public installation was in collaboration with the Canterbury Fiji Community and the Christchurch Fiji Association (CFCESSA). 

The drum was located along the river near the Town Hall, a prominent part of the city on the new river walkway for passers by to view and have a go at playing.