To celebrate five years of shipping container boutique shopping creativity in the heart of Christchurch, Re:START Mall catches up with one of our original tenants – Maureen Taane (top, right) from New Zealand design store HAPA – to hear her Re:START story.

What attracted you to Re:START? In the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake, there were very few options available to retailers who wanted to get back into business as soon as possible. I’ve lived and worked in central Christchurch for more than 2 decades and I knew that my heart was in the CBD – it was just a case of waiting for the right opportunity to come up. Re:START was an exciting and innovative solution to the immediate problems retailers were facing in the CBD.

What has Re:START done for Christchurch? Re:START has done exactly what it promised – it ‘restarted the heart’ of the central city. Together with Ballantynes it formed a nucleus of activity in the inner city that gave people an exciting, vibrant and colourful place to shop, meet up with friends, and re-establish a relationship with an almost unrecognisable central city. Here we are 5 years later on the brink of a new retail precinct; that journey was made possible by the establishment of Re:START and the warm support of locals and tourists.

What has been your highlight over the last 5 years? So many! But one of our favourites would be being chosen as the only CBD store to host Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla when they toured Christchurch in 2012. They were charming and funny, Charles met several of our local artists and suppliers in-store, and the Duchess purchased several Christchurch-made items for their grandchildren.

Describe the Re:START shopping experience … On a classic Christchurch day the Re:START experience is an absolute delight – sunny skies and open outdoor areas let you wander at will in the fresh air, browsing in boutique stores – many of them you won’t find anywhere else. Fantastic coffee, the best wood-fired pizzas in town, and high street clothing labels make for a satisfying shopping experience. Several stores, including HAPA, showcase locally-made goods and suppliers, which positively contributes to our local economy and wellbeing.