Roller rink update

We nailed the last piece of ply down on the 15th of November, and since then have been doing ongoing upgrades – we discovered that we needed more dwangs than we originally planned to add strength to the structure and keep the boards from popping up as they get wet and then dry out.

I’ve spent hours pulling up the boards and re-drilling them. Not the most fun job ever, but it makes the rink much flatter and more awesome to skate on and to play hockey on.

The last piece in the puzzle has been to get sides for the rink so we can hold safe skate events, and hockey practices without having to chase after pucks.

And the sides were delivered yesterday, thanks to Dan Lucas at Fulton Hogan. They come in the form of 36 x 2m x 1.2m road barriers. They are just perfect. How I came into possession of these barriers is a pretty neat story…

A couple of weeks ago I was invited, along with dozens of other awesome people, to have afternoon tea with the Mayor and Councillors. It was an informal event so the Mayor and Council could “express their thanks for all your inspirational work in our city”. There was a great selection of truly amazing people there – Gap Filler, Life in Vacant Spaces, Ministry of Awesome, Student Volunteer Army, Hapa, C1 Cafe to name just a few of my favourites!

The Mayor invited us all to say a little something about our projects, and one thing the Council could do to help (that didn’t involve money!). People talked about the importance of good policy, of coordinated efforts, of being joined up and well-networked. These are really important things, but all I really needed was barriers for my roller rink. So that’s what I asked for. I have been trying for months to get hold of road barriers (called water-filled delineators) without success. They would be a super-easy way to make the rink safe for kids to use. When I asked for them, everyone laughed – in the good way (I think) because it seemed too easy. But these barriers mean the world to me, as I explained. Barriers would mean that kids can skate on the rink safely, so we will be able to hold awesome-fun summer events at the rink.

Deputy Mayor Vicki Buck said “that’s a simple one! I’ll get onto it on Monday!”. And she was true to her word. I sent her an email explaining exactly what I needed, and quickly heard back from Will, the General Manager of the Horizontal Infrastructure Management Team at CERA (Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority), who put me in touch with Duncan, the Executive General Manager of SCIRT (Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team). I called Duncan, who contacted Fulton Hogan to see if they had any spare barriers, and before I knew it, BARRIERS! And brand-spanking new ones at that. It took two weeks in total. Amazing.

I am ever so grateful to everyone who helped to get them there.


Now if only the rain would stop…

This one time when we built a roller rink

You might have heard already, but Stephen and I have been building a roller rink. It’s an outdoor pop-up rink in a space that was left when the Christchurch Convention Centre was demolished.

From this...
From this…
To this...
To this…


The project has been about two years in the making. I conceived of the idea some time after the Christchurch TEDx conference, which took place in May 2011. We were still reeling from the February earthquakes, the city was closed and life was pretty bleak for most Christchurchians. This TED event was like shining a light into the darkness for me. People spoke passionately about the opportunity that the disaster represented to our city. It was hard to take in at the time, but it got an idea brewing in the back of my mind (it’s like the wild wild west back there, you wouldn’t want to go in alone).

The speaker that resonated most for me was Coralie Winn. Her idea wowed me. Here was an everyday woman who had taken an idea and run with it. I’ll let her speak for herself.



Coralie’s development, the Pallet Pavilion, gave me the courage to come back into the centre city for a look. I was too scared to go near it before this, but my curiosity about what was developing in pockets around the place – pop-up spaces – drew me back in. So awesome. And it was the Pallet Pavilion that encouraged me to think my idea just might work.

The Pallet Pavilion
The Pallet Pavilion


I wanted to build a small-scale, outdoor roller rink. First, there were lots of questions I needed to answer:

  • How would I fund it?
  • Who would help me?
  • Where would I build it?
  • How would I design it?
  • Where and how would I get supplies?

One by one, my questions were answered.

I was initially helped along by the amazing, fabulous, inventive people at the Ministry of Awesome, via their Awesome Evening, and Coffee and Jam. They gave me an outlet to speak about my idea so I could get feedback and encouragement. I started to think I could actually do it!

Oh the irony then, when after a pretty demoralising meeting with CCC about funding, I decided I wasn’t going to get the money and I should just give up. I spoke at a Coffee and Jam session about my lack of success, and what I might do next. And the VERY NEXT DAY I got the email from CCC that I had been successful in securing $12,000 to fund the build.

Things started (slowly) falling into place. The funding came through from the Transitional City Projects fund; I started Roller Restart with a group of friends and interested people; LiVS helped me find a site, and then a bigger, better site in a great location – a stone’s throw from the Pallet Pavilion; and I got advice from a range of people on construction (honestly, I started with Google and Youtube: “How to build a deck”), including F3 Design. Shane at Mitre 10 Mega Hornby was very helpful in getting me a great deal on materials.

The plan
The plan

Then it was just a matter of waiting for the the weather to improve enough to start building. The weather has been less than ideal. We built for a couple of weekends in the rain, and then the last two in the beating sun. Not that I’m complaining. I love being outside in the elements, no matter what they are.

And we are almost finished! I have blisters on my fingers, sore arms, sun-burned shoulders, and bruises all over my shins, but it’s been an amazing experience. Sometimes Stephen and I are there by ourselves, hammering and drilling and scratching our heads about levelling. Sometimes we have people pop in and out, doing their bit to help. It’s been hard giving up every weekend to do exhausting and sometimes frustrating work.  When I get discouraged and think it’s never going to happen, I put my head down and get on with it, because it HAS to happen. Our community roller rink is tantalisingly close.

Come visit and have a look – we are at 100 Peterborough St (between Colombo and Durham Sts).

Taking a break ... dreaming of completion
Taking a break … dreaming of completion