“Imagine what kind of city we would be if we took the opportunity to green more of these sites, either temporarily or perhaps even in more permanent ways. – The Tree Museum features nine notable trees that formed part of the original ecosystems of central Christchurch.”
The concept for this project was derived from Joni Mitchell’s song “Big Yellow Taxi”. While the song was written in 1970, its message is timeless and it is relevant in Christchurch today.
Mitchell said this about writing the song to journalist Alan McDougall in the early 1970s:
“I wrote ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ on my first trip to Hawaii. I took a taxi to the hotel and when I woke up the next morning, I threw back the curtains and saw these beautiful green mountains in the distance. Then, I looked down and there was a parking lot as far as the eye could see, and it broke my heart… this blight on paradise. That’s when I sat down and wrote the song.”
These are the lyrics that gave us inspiration for this project:
“They took all the trees
Put ’em in a tree museum
And they charged the people
A dollar and a half just to see ’em
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
Till it’s gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot”
Christchurch residents were asked what kind of city they wanted Post-Quake. A ‘Green City’ was the top response, but a visitor to downtown Christchurch could be forgiven for thinking we are the carpark city. So many of the vacant and gravelled sites are being used for car parks; some formally charging a fee, and many informally. Greening the Rubble have often been “outbid” for use of vacant sites by carpark agencies willing to pay for the use of central city prime real estate.
Imagine what kind of city we would be if we took the opportunity to green more of these sites, either temporarily or perhaps even in more permanent ways.
The Tree Museum features nine notable trees that formed part of the original ecosystems of central Christchurch. These trees are mostly now lost or locally extinct from the central city. The project highlights the loss of these ecosystems and provides central city businesses and residents clues on what they might consider planting here as part of the future development of Christchurch.
Partners: Christchurch City Council, Hyalite, Life in Vacant Spaces Trust, Rata Foundation, Trees for Canterbury
Location: 221 Manchester St
Date launched: June 2016
Date removed: Still there!