We are LiVS
We bring life to vacant spaces
LiVS connects owners of vacant land and buildings with people who have big ideas to fill those spaces. We’re passionate about helping to create a city where anything can happen and anyone can give something a go!
LiVS is a charitable trust that brokers spaces for community groups, creative projects, social enterprises and start-ups. We know that the things we need to make Ōtautahu Christchurch vibrant and dynamic already exist within the city - we can work with you by connecting you to temporary spaces, tools and resources you need to help your dreams and projects come to life!
The people of LiVS
Sarah has previously worked with both The Green Lab and Gap Filler and has extensive experience working with a number of communities both on the ground and at a board level. Sarah holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Geography and a Graduate Diploma in Event Management. She runs an aromatherapy business, is an avid sewist, and a mum of 2 primary aged children.
Sarah - Director
Lydia - Project Manager
I am a creative, sociable and driven person, who enjoys setting goals both in and outside of work. As an enthusiastic and dynamic individual, with a background in art & design, I enjoy networking, continuously developing new skills and expanding my knowledge. Originally from Ireland, I have spent many years travelling the world after graduating, and have now fallen in love with Ōtautahi and its endless creative possibilities!
Working across a number of creative industries, I have over 10 years in the creative project and production management space whilst living in London, Melbourne, Tāmaki Makarau and most recently Ōtautahi Christchurch.
I’m a genuine people person and enjoy facilitating social interactions that give communities a sense of worth. Following 3 years with Gap Filler here in Ōtautahi, I took the opportunity with a position at Life in Vacant Spaces to continue to delve into, draw out and work with the creative people of Christchurch.
Paul currently manages the Central City Business Association and post the February 2011 earthquake he was one of the key leaders in the Re:START initiative (container mall) which was the first step in bringing life back to the central city sooner than would have otherwise been possible.
Paul stayed on to manage Re:START to local success and international acclaim. Re:START gave Paul a passion for activation work in city spaces and showed him what could be achieved with a bit of effort. He has worked with LiVS during its early phase and believes LiVS still has an important role to play in the future of our beautiful city.
Paul loves the creative side of life and has a passion for art and music. When time permits, he loves to play his guitar or get stuck into some good old renovation work around the house.
Hugh is the director of UrbanShift, an urban design consultancy working on a variety of projects around New Zealand. He is also a member of the Nelson City / Tasman District Urban Design Panel and the Akaroa Design Review Panel. Hugh was the design lead for the regeneration plan for the Residential Red Zone, and played a leading role in the recovery planning after the Canterbury Earthquakes on 2010-11 including the hugely successful 'Share an Idea' public engagement. He helped to establish Christchurch’s programme of transitional projects, including LiVS. When he is not working or here at LiVS, Hugh loves skiing and tramping with his family, cycling around the city and creating artworks out of old road signs.
Anne has a background in Urban Geography and politics, loves cycling and its role in awesome, people-friendly cities, and is passionate about Ōtautahi Christchurch being and becoming a vibrant, inclusive and diverse place. She was living in Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington during the worst of the Canterbury earthquake series, but returned to Ōtautahi in 2012 to contribute to the city’s rejuvenation and to watch the old and new city flourish.
Bridget is an Associate at Kendons, Business Advisors and Chartered Accountants. Originally from Southland, Bridget and her family moved to Christchurch in 2008 and were just starting to get used to the “big city” before the earthquakes struck. Post-earthquakes, one of the Directors at Kendons became involved with Gap Filler and when the idea of LiVS was mooted, it was suggested that Bridget act as the Treasurer – so Bridget has been involved since the day LiVS began. Now a Trustee, Bridget values being involved with a Trust that provides an opportunity for start-up businesses to “give it a go” with very little cost and that encourages and helps to create life in the city. In her spare time Bridget can be found playing the cello with the Canterbury Philharmonia, standing on the side lines of a rugby or AFL field watching family play or walking her two Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Boris and Bronte.
Gaby Montejo is an interdisciplinary artist with a sometimes performative style who uses human relations as a catalyst and works with politics as medium; making for an event that is not always predicted or defined. With often some aspect of food displayed at the centre of Gaby’s practice, he shows internationally and has had national exhibitions as well as a number of local initiatives, collaborations, and social interventions.
Laura Mc Donnell
Laura works as a legal executive at a Christchurch law firm whilst studying towards a law degree, and joined the LiVS team at the start of 2023. Laura was born and bred in Ōtautahi and has enjoyed witnessing the rebuild of the city she calls home after her family lost their home in the Canterbury earthquakes. Outside of work and study, Laura enjoys spending time in the outdoors with her partner, their bikes and their dog, and enjoying good food with friends and family.
Linda is quick to see the potential in others and has a drive to connect people to their greater purpose. Her role as Office Manager/ Outreach at Gap Filler sees her building and maintaining relationships and nurturing those relationships to get positive outcomes for community development: places and neighbourhoods will flourish most if people are activating their strengths and passions. Linda has gained governance experience through school boards and more recently on the Gap Filler board. Linda enjoys long walks in nature with her husband and feels most grounded when she is in the Port Hills, walking on the beach or dancing to her eclectic playlist!
Lindsey is a Senior Lecturer in Geography at the University of Canterbury. She has a background in transport and urban design, with a focus on the ways they influence accessibility, equity and wellbeing.