Cranford Basin, Christchurch

Cranford Basin is an exciting initiative for our Christchurch team. This is a a significant planting project in Mairehau, Christchurch. In 2021 with the help of volunteers from the local community we had the goal of planting 37,000 kahikatea at Cranford Basin. These seedlings will grow up to become the largest stand of kahikatea in Ōtautahi Christchurch since pre-European times.  

At the time of European colonisation, Cranford Basin was a low lying wetland site dominated by raupō and tussock swamp, toi toi flax and grass and broken ground and surface water. Ngāi Tahu and before them Ngāti Mamoe and Waitaha had settlements among, and gathered resources from, the network of springs, waterways, swamps, grasses and podocarp forests in the Christchurch area.

Since European settlement the Basin and surrounds have been drained and used for grazing and intensive cultivation of peaty soils for market gardening. The low lying nature of the area and the high groundwater tables have necessitated extensive draining and pumping to maintain the productivity of the area. Council has implemented storm water works within the wider area, such as the Upper Dudley Creek diversion, to reduce flood risks to the existing urban area. Cranford Basin is a natural ponding and storm water management area, critical to reducing the flood risk to urban Christchurch, and in particular the Pūharakekenui/Styx and Avon River/Otākaro catchments. It will be transformed over the next decade into a multi-purpose, forested wetland, with enhanced waterways and passive recreation areas that will benefit ecosystems and the surrounding community.  

This planting project is a Matariki Tu Rākau Living Memorial, initiated under the One Billion Trees Programme, in conjunction with Christchurch City Council, Trees for Canterbury, and with support from the Department of Conservation’s Community Fund. CVNZ Christchurch have been engaged to look after this planting through to 2022.