QUAKE DAMAGED CATHEDRAL IN CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND, TO BE DEMOLISHED

6th March, 2012

The earthquake-damaged Anglican Cathedral in Christchurch, New Zealand is beyond repair and will be demolished and replaced by a new cathedral with a different design, said Bishop Victoria Matthews on 2nd March.

"This decision has been made with prayer, with great deliberation, and an utmost concern for safety. We acknowledge the high level of community interest and sense of ownership as the cathedral was both an iconic building and a place of regular worship by many."

The 131-year-old landmark ChristChurch Cathedral was severely damaged in last year's 22nd February earthquake, which killed 185 people. The building sustained further damage from several aftershocks and had been cordoned off.

Bishop Matthews said the cathedral will be taken down, as it would be too expensive and dangerous to rebuild. It would cost $NZ42 million to rebuild using existing parts of the building or $NZ84 million for a complete reconstruction - at least $NZ41 million more than insurance could fund.

"This decision has been made with prayer, with great deliberation, and an utmost concern for safety. We acknowledge the high level of community interest and sense of ownership as the cathedral was both an iconic building and a place of regular worship by many."

The deconstruction will bring the building to a level of two or three meters, with the base of the church to be used as a prayer garden. Heritage items and taonga (treasures), such as stained glass windows, will be retrieved.

"There would be no bulldozers or wrecking balls. This will be done with deep respect and love for a building that has served us so well for so long," said Christchurch mayor Bob Parker, who called the decision to demolish the cathedral "heartbreaking."

"It is not an easy decision for the church. It is not an easy decision for many of us to accept, either," he said.

Christchurch city councillor Aaron Keown said demolition would happen "over my dead body."

"I would be in there chaining myself to the building to stop that and I know lots of other volunteers would come in to do that," he told the Christchurch Press.

"The cathedral is the revered Mother Church," said Bishop Matthews, "but it is not the only thing we have to consider. Twenty five other churches are very seriously damaged; five further churches have been demolished."

Bishop Matthews said the Christchurch diocese will establish a transitional cathedral "to bring hope to Christchurch and provide a much-needed venue where the community can pray, reflect, and gather for worship."

- DAVID CRAMPTON, ENInews

 


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