McDonald’s is set to spend $20 million opening four new stores in the greater Christchurch area, generating concern from residents over the increasing availability of fast food in the city. Woolston, Yaldhurst and Woodend are all due to get new restaurants by December, with a fourth location not yet confirmed.

Canterbury University associate professor of marketing Ekant Veer was a leading voice of opposition, claiming that the concentration of McDonald’s restaurants "normalises fast food as an everyday food.”

The greater Christchurch area already has 15 McDonald’s restaurants, and the addition of four more would mean that Christchurch has the most McDonald’s restaurants per capita in the country. It also boasts 10 Burger Kings and eight KFCs.

"Canterbury is also one of the fastest-growing regions in the country, making it a natural choice for new restaurants," said a McDonald’s spokesperson, also explaining that the Yaldhusrt location was chosen due to it being a main arterial route. Only one other McDonald’s is set to be built in New Zealand in 2018, in Auckland.

In September last year, St Anne’s principal Dallas Wichman argued that the location of the proposed Woolston McDonald’s was at odds with the healthy diet curriculum promoted at the school. “You’ll either get sugar-hyped kids in the morning or they starve themselves all day to go down and buy things like frozen Coke after school,” he said. McDonald’s denied those accusations, again saying that the location was chosen because it is along an arterial route.