Health & wellbeing  |  27 Apr 2022

Inspired by the story of a grieving man following the 2011 Japan tsunami, the organisation behind the River of Flowers project has installed 12 telephones along the river to talk your worries away.

“It’s an art installation for our wellbeing,” says Flourish Kia Puāwai Co-Director Michelle Whitaker.

“A fun way to do something meaningful as not everyone has someone to talk to or someone they can safely tell everything to. The river will listen with no judgement." 

The project was inspired by a gentleman setting up a telephone box in his back garden following the Japanese tsunami in 2011.

He had lost his cousin in the tsunami so he would use his phone to talk to his cousin in his grief. Soon people started to approach him to ask if they could use his phone to deal with their grief, loss and feelings through tough times.

Flourish Kia Puāwai is the group behind the River of Flowers Earthquake Commemorations so the 12 phones can be found at the regular River of Flowers sites alongside the Avon-Ōtākaro, Heathcote-Ōpāwaho and the Estuary-Ihutai waterways.

“Feel free to use our special river phones to share your worries, concerns, grief or whatever you’re dealing with right now," she says. 

Flourish hopes that the river phone installations help the working through of tough feelings by connecting with nature and our rivers. Being in and connecting with nature is now well known to improve our wellbeing and mental health.

“Now with the pandemic rules lessening it is a good time to get back out into nature before the weather gets colder,” Ms Whitaker says.

Where you'll find the phones

  • Earthquake Memorial — Riverbank opposite Memorial wall
  • O-Tautahi /The Bricks — Barbadoes Street bridge adjoining riverbank
  • Richmond — Near new Medway Bridge
  • Avonside — River bank opposite old Avonside Girls’ High School
  • St Albans — Abberley Park
  • ​​​​​Burwood/Avondale — Avondale Bridge River bank​​
  • ​New Brighton — Owles Terrace River bank and pontoon
  • South Shore/South New Brighton — End of Estuary Road on the bank
  • Moncks Bay — Moncks Bay (or nearby)
  • Woolston — Woolston Radley Park
  • Beckenham — Beckenham Park
  • Princess Margaret Hospital — Heathcote River bank opposite Princess Margaret Hospital