Dodson, S. (2007). Reality versus perception: User perceptions of the Avon and Heathcote rivers. University of Canterbury.
Comissioned by the Avon-Heathcote Estuary Ihutai Trust in 2005, the purpose of this report was to investigate whether user perceptions of the health of Christchurch urban rivers match the reality of the rivers as determined by scientific monitoring. Information gained from this study was determined to be important for understanding people’s baseline knowledge and providing education programmes about urban rivers.
Questionnaires across four Ōtautahi Christchurch sites were used to investigate how the public perceived water quality and pollutant issues. When water samples were compared to the survey results it was determined that perceptions rarely met the reality for the health of the Avon and Heathcote Rivers. Many river users were unaware of significant pollution sources and the effects of land use activities on water quality and the ecological health of the rivers. It was therefore determined that public awareness campaigns were needed to cover these issues. Because river users completing questionnaires showed genuine interest in discussing concerns about their river, it was concluded that such public awareness campaigns would likely be successful.