What is the Temple?

“The Temple for Christchurch” is a large scale interactive art installation that seeks to provide a mechanism for emotional healing alongside the physical rebuilding of the city, and to be a catalyst for reflection on the past three years of earthquakes; from the initial damage caused, the lingering effects, to the process of recovery, and residents’ hopes for the future.

It will be open in the central city on the site of the old Convention Centre on Peterborough St from September 4th-15th, commemorating the anniversary of  the first quake to hit Christchurch on September 4th.  It will then be relocated to Motukarara racecourse to be ceremonially burned in a public event on September 21st.

The structure itself  is a visual interpretation of an earthquakes movement through the ground, with its design is based on the seismic data of the February 22nd earthquake, the largest and most destructive of the earthquakes to hit Christchurch. It is being built by by local volunteers from wood recycled from demolished houses, and will be 40m long, 25m wide and 6.3m tall when completed.

As people visit the Temple they are encouraged to share their stories and experiences with others by adding to the walls of the Temple. People are invited to bring photos, poems, mementos, letters from insurance companies; to write poems, and draw pictures. As more and more people add their stories to the walls, a communal dialogue is created, allowing insight into how others have been affected by the shared history of the earthquakes.

The act of writing out these stories and the emotions associated with them can be a cathartic experience, an opportunity to let go of the of the past and move forward more freely. We encourage people to bring any emotions from their lives they wish to share, both positive and negative, and not just those earthquake related.

The final burning of the Temple signifies the release of the stories it has gathered, and will be the finale to a community event including performances, workshops, and speakers from notable Christchurch projects. This event will be held on the 21st, spring equinox, at Motukarara Race-Course.

There is a great need for the people of Christchurch to finally let go of the horrific experiences they have suffered from the over a year and a half of almost constant earthquakes. Almost everyone is hurting over the trauma they have been through.

We are not often offered a tangible way to deal with these traumatic experiences, which are either buried and ignored, or dealt with through sometimes lengthy counseling processes. Through our project, we are offering people the chance to write about their experiences, reflect upon those felt by others, and see them all turn into ashes.

-Hippathy Valentine, Temple Project Manager, Christchurch Resident and Artist

  • The Temple Concept

    The Temple is based on a successful concept, developed and proven over 11 years at the Burning Man festival. It is a place for people to write their deepest sorrows or greatest joys; to mourn their lost loved ones or to celebrate their love for life; a place for people to cry and a place for people to celebrate. Poems, photos, shrines, letters and mementos are pinned, posted and penned all over the Temple walls, helping to create a communal dialogue about what touches us deeply as individuals and the shared experience of our humanity.

    The cathartic climax of the Temple experience is reached when it is burned, expressing the promise of release and renewal that fire brings. It is a moving and emotional experience.

    This is the Temple we are trying to create: a space for the people of Christchurch to let go of some of the emotions that have built up over the last 14 months and to help them move on with their lives. The Temple will be a key part of creating a healthier, happier and stronger Christchurch.

  • The Temple Design

    The Temple was designed by Christchurch artist Hippathy Valentine, and is based on seismic data taken from the Heathcote Valley Station during the February 22nd earthquake, the largest and most damaging of the earthquakes to hit Christchurch. These waveforms inspired the shape and dimensions of the structure, with the central line of cones corresponding to peaks in the acceleration readout, while the shape of the waves reaching out from the centre is taken from the velocity. The finished structure will be 40m long, 25m wide, and will reach 6.3m at it highest point, forming a dramatic visualization of the way an earthquake moves through the ground, raising it up and causing cracks to form.

The Temple for Christchurch is a community art project which means we need everybody’s support and involvement to bring it to fruition; we want it to be ‘by’ Christchurch as well as ‘for’ Christchurch.

This page has a list of some of the ways you can help make this project a reality by supporting us through donations of time or resources. If you have ideas about other contributions you or groups with which you are involved can make to the project, we would love to hear from you.

  • Be a Volunteer

    Everyone working on the Temple for Christchurch is a volunteer; our core crew have been working full-time since April, devoting their lives to creating this opportunity for Christchurch. From now on we will need more and more volunteers to help being the Temple to completion. We have less than a month left to build the Temple; but many hands make light work, and we need yours! This is an awesome chance to be involved with the creation of large scale art, plus its lots of fun and a great way to support us- become a part of the project! Our working hours are 10am-6pm Tuesday-Sunday. Current tasks include:
    • Denailing wood
    • Ripping timber
    • Cutting wood to dimension
    • Truss assembly
    • Wood collection
    • General labouring
    • Site preparation
    • Sourcing donations
    • Flyering and postering
    Later jobs for volunteers- we need a group of 'Temple Guardians' to provide information and support to visitors during the time the Temple is open. We also need lots of volunteers to us relocate the structure (got a trailer we can borrow?) and to help on the day of the final burn event. For more information, to offer your help, or to register your interest in volunteering please contact our volunteer co-ordinater at volunteer@templeforchristchurch.org or use the form below.
  • Donate Resources


    Do you run a business? Can you donate goods or services 'in kind' to the project? This is a great way to help us, and we can support you in turn by adding you to our 'Supporters' page, and will credit you in the documentary being made of the project.


    This is one of the best gifts you can give us! Everyone loves a nice full belly. Our volunteers work super hard, so being able to feed and fuel them is vital. If you can supply us with any sort of food whether it be bringing snacks to our site, making us a meal, or donating excess produce or non-saleable goods that we can use to feed our hard-working volunteers, it would be very much appreciated. If you work for or run a grocery, cafe or other food store, you could help by giving us discounted rates.

    Materials Wish List

    Construction Equipment
    • High vis vests, hard hats
    • Brad nail guns
    • Fixers and fasteners
    • Hardware store sponsorship
    • Untreated timber
    • Pry bars
    • Steel toed boots
    Office Equipment
    • White boards
    • Small Fridge
    • Plastic Bins
    • Large quantities of Permanent Markers

The Temple has burned…

On Sunday the 21st of September, spring equinox, the Temple for Christchurch met its firey fate at Motukarara Race-Course, symbolically releasing the emotions of the past and creating a beautiful and catha
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Burn down the Temple!

Tomorrow, on the 21st of September the Temple will meet its firey fate at Motukarara Race-way. Join us for a fun-filled community day celebrating the future of Christchurch as we release the past and celeb
Read More →

The Temple is open!

It’s been a long hard 5 months, but we have finally completed the Temple! The fences were taken down late Thursday night, and the finishing touches added throughout the day on Friday before officiall
Read More →

What is this gifting thing anyway?

Having just launched our burn event we are introducing people to the idea of gifting and participation and how these manifest themselves. Many people are probably asking, “what do you meaning by gift
Read More →

This project wouldn’t be successful if it weren’t for the generous donations that have been made to the Temple for Christchurch Trust. It takes a lot of work, supplies and money to get a project like this off the ground.

New Zealand

We want this project to be a gift to the people of Christchurch so if you are from Christchurch please do not feel at all obligated to make a donation, instead check out the get involved section for other ways to help. All other New Zealanders are welcome to make a tax deductible donation through our bank account or through Give a Little.

Bank: Westpac
Account name: Temple for Christchurch Trust
Account number: 03 1700 0498334 000
Reference: Please use your name


If you make a donation through our bank account please send an email to donations@templeforchristchurch.org with your name and donation amount to receive your tax deductible receipt.

If you prefer to give via credit card then you can use Give a Little’s online service; they will automatically send you a tax deductible receipt.

USA and the rest of the World

Donors from the USA can make tax deductible donations through our fiscal sponsor, the Black Rock Art Foundation (BRAF). You can find their payment portal through Click and Pledge here.

BRAF also accepts cheques which can can mailed to the following address. Please be sure to state that you wish your donation to go to the Temple for Christchurch.

Black Rock Arts Foundation

995 Market St. FL 15

San Francisco, CA 94103


We’d like to take the chance to thank some of supporters:

Quotes from Supporters
  • The entire concept of the Temple for Christchurch and its therapeutic properties, as evidenced by support from the Mental Health Foundation, means not only are we creating a structure that will test our creative minds and create interest for the people of Christchurch, it also has long-lasting benefits. It also builds on Aurecon’s voluntary design work carried out on the extremely popular blue Pallet Pavilion.
    Luis Castillo - Structural Engineer for Aurecon,
  • This is a creative writing ritual and there is evidence that if people are given the opportunity to write about emotional upheaval or trauma then it can benefit their health, including their mental health, so the opportunity for people in Christchurch to write and let go of that writing could be potentially beneficial for each and every one of them.
    Judi Clements - Mental Health Foundation,
  • We agree about the profound emotional impact this project will have for the people of Christchurch. An opportunity to collectively process some of our shared grief will be invaluable for the city.
    Kaila Colbin - Ministry of Awesome Trustee,
  • A project such as the Temple for Christchurch is something very different and unusual for Christchurch city, but this is precisely why is should receive support. In the wake of the quakes, Christchurch needs to be bold, imaginative and innovative as it struggles to establish a new identity for itself amongst difficult, but also exciting circumstances. The opportunity the project presents for public participation is a real strength.
    Coralie Winn - Gap Filler Co-Founder and Director,
  • Life in Vacant Spaces (LiVS) is in full support of the Temple for Christchurch and see this project as a great way to activate a large vacant space. The project has the potential to bring thousands of people into the central city, reconnecting them with the city and the rebuild.
    Brie Sherow - LiVS Project Manager,
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