Once in a Lifetime: City-building after Disaster in Christchurch

In 2014 Freerange Press released Once in a Lifetime: City-building after Disaster in Christchurch, at the WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival.

City-building after Disaster in Christchurch

This important book offers the first substantial critique of the Government’s recovery plan for Christchurch, presents alternative approaches to city-building and archives a vital and extraordinary time.

New Zealand has to rebuild the majority of its second-largest city after a devastating series of earthquakes – a unique challenge for a developed country in the twenty-first century. The earthquakes fundamentally disrupted the conventions by which the people of Christchurch lived. The exhausting and exhilarating mix of distress, uncertainty, creativity, opportunities, divergent opinions and competing priorities generates an inevitable question: how do we know if the right decisions are being made?

Once in a Lifetime brings together a range of national and international perspectives on city-building and post-disaster urban recovery.


  • foreword by Helen Clark (former New Zealand Prime Minister and UNDP Administrator)
  • 55 written essays from a range of contributors including Kevin McCloud, Rebecca Macfie, Sally Blundell, Raf Manji, journalists, economists, designers, academics, publicans and more
  • 39 visual essays that document community, business and government responses to Christchurch’s recovery.

Barnaby Bennett and Ryan Reynolds, members of the editorial team, are available for interview.

Once in a Lifetime: City-building after Disaster in Christchurch

Edited by Barnaby Bennett, James Dann, Emma Johnson and Ryan Reynolds

Foreword by Helen Clark

Freerange Press, August 2014

512 pages, full colour. Includes photos, maps and index.

55 essays, 39 visual essays


ISBN: 978-0-473-28940-9


For orders and publicity enquiries, please contact emma@projectfreerange.com.

Many Thanks To The Following