Christchurch’s Post-Quake ReStart Container Mall and its Vendors

Of the 2010 and 2011 Canterbury (NZ) earthquakes, the February 22, 2011 was the most destructive for Christchurch, leaving hundreds of buildings in the  CBD collapsed or unstable and requiring urgent demolition.

Large areas of the CBD subsequently became desolate and unrecognisable. The change in the cityscape is illustrated in the two photographs below which look east along Cashel Mall.  The first photograph was made in July 2010 and the second, in June 2013.

With inspiration and foresight, the Restart The Heart Trust designed and assembled  a “pop-up” shopping mall using shipping containers. This would highlight innovation and herald life returning to the CBD ahead of the main rebuild. 

The  intriguing  and colourful “Re:START” Mall was established within vacant sections either side of  Cashel Mall (above) and opened on October 2011. It was an instant success, proving very popular with both locals and tourists.

Intended to be temporary, the now iconic container mall is still operating.  It has survived relocations and rearrangements, and, in April 2017, a change of ownership and name.

While the novel, colourful and organic nature of the mall’s architecture attracts visitors and customers, it is the vendors with their products and merchandise who have people returning repeatedly. Each of the vendors have their own story of how they come to be there. Of course, this frequently includes being “earthquake refugees”.

The popularity of the mall’s architecture  has  led to an abundance of photographs of the site. However, for historical and cultural reasons, it is important to also record the people of the mall. 

This led to my ReStart Mall Vendors photo-series. It is a “snapshot” record of the diverse, interesting and inspirational people who operate the container shops, food wagons  and various stalls.

Pure Pulp – Suzie

View the ReStart Mall Vendors Gallery

My sincere thanks to all those vendors and assistants who supported the idea of the series and so willingly participated.



China 1980s – People of Inner Mongolia

A retrospective of the people of Inner Mongolia, 1981-83.

Working on a project at Wengniute in Inner Mongolia in the early 1980s when China was in its initial phase of “opening up” was a privileged and immensely rewarding experience. The project had a very high status in Beijing, and was well publicised. A heady experience for a young man on his first overseas assignment.

The photographs exhibited here represent a selection of the extensive landscape and people photographs I made during that time.

The people remain at the foremost of my memories of the Wengniute experience. So it is appropriate that those people are the subject of this series.

Inner Mongolia, China

Inner Mongolia, China

In the photographs you will see work counterparts and their families, interpreters, drivers, cooks and gardener, gatherings at the local cooperative store, outdoor film shows, the naadam (Mongolian tournament) and, of course, banquets.

Inner Mongolia, China

I chose black and white as the medium because it conveys the form and character of the people so well.

The collection is a unique record of that time and place.

The series is presented in this gallery

Alternatively the series, set to the music of Hanggai, may be viewed as a video on Vimeo: