Media release – 2.00pm Friday 2 March 2012
Decision Reached on the Christchurch Cathedral
The Church Property Trust and Standing Committee of the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch has reached a final decision on the works to be undertaken on the Christchurch Cathedral, further to receipt of the Section 38 Notice from CERA and following the exacerbation of existing damage to the building on December 23rd. Bishop Victoria Matthews announced today that the Cathedral will be carefully deconstructed down to a level of approximately 2-3 metres in order to meet safety requirements and allow the safe retrieval of taonga and heritage items which can then be stored and protected until decisions about a new Cathedral are made.
" The Cathedral will be deconstructed with the utmost care and respect while at the same time protecting the treasures within its walls - there will be no bulldozers or wrecking balls, on the job," said Bishop Victoria.
"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. However, this is now a very dangerous building that needs to be made safe. Our priority is also to ensure people working on-site are safe - in fact if anyone had been in the building on December 23rd they would have been put at a great risk of serious injury or worse."
"We are also mindful that since December 23, the context of our decision making has changed given the further deterioration of the building and the risk of further seismic events, according to the geotechnical experts.
"The Anglican Diocese is facing a hard reality - the Cathedral is the revered "MotherChurch" but is not the only church in the Diocese to have sustained damage, in some cases irreparable or too costly to repair." Cost considerations have been a factor in the collective decision-making by the Church Property Trust and Standing Committee due to the significant shortfall in expected insurance monies. Currently, the Trust has estimated a $20-$30million shortfall over the whole Anglican Diocese, which does not include the potential cost of any future damage. In regard to the Cathedral specifically, the sums are staggering. A replica Cathedral has been ruled out due to an estimated $100 million shortfall, while a new build incorporating some of the old would incur a shortfall of up to $50million. " We would not be responsible stewards if we ignored the financial realities - in this respect we are facing a similar challenge as the Roman Catholic Diocese," said Bishop Victoria.
"We are now looking to the future and creating a beautiful, inspiring, safe new Cathedral but we understand it will take some time for any of these decisions to be made. Meanwhile, we are committed to establishing a Transitional Cathedral in the central city to bring hope to Christchurch and provide a much-needed venue where the community can pray, reflect and gather for worship."
Questions and Answers
What was the decision making process?
The Cathedral Project Team (that includes representatives from the Cathedral Chapter, Church Property Trustees, Standing Committee and Cathedral staff, as well as consulting experts in specialist areas such as engineering and heritage) put together this recommendation for consideration by the Cathedral Chapter. It was then voted on by Standing Committee and Church Property Trustees.
Standing Committee: A committee of elected members of the Diocese – both clergy and non-clergy.
Church Property Trustees: Oversee the Trust that owns all Anglican Diocese of Christchurch properties.
Cathedral Chapter: The council who administers the Cathedral. All these groups are unpaid and voluntary.
Why is this decision happening now?
This decision is required to address the Section 38 notice under the Act administered by CERA.
How long will the process take?
We anticipate completing the works by the end of the year. The actual length of time will depend on progress of the deconstruction and controlled demolition works but the sequence is likely to be as follows: an initial two months retrieving stained glass windows and protecting heritage items, then developing and tendering detailed methodology to CERA followed by 6-8 months deconstruction and controlled demolition works.
What is the financial situation?
In regards to insurance, even with the best possible payout scenario there will still be a substantial and significant shortfall in financing a new Cathedral. Ansvar, the insurer for all the church properties in Christchurch, left New Zealand at the end of 2011. The Church Property Trust is still in discussion with Ansvar but their departure has made discussions more prolonged.
What is happening with donations for the Cathedral?
There is a specific Cathedral fund and the money is kept separate from other Diocesan business.
Why is the Diocese spending money doing this work on the Cathedral?
It is not responsible to leave a building in such an unsafe situation. We are responsible for the building so we are required to make the building safe and clearly we do not want anyone to be injured on the site. The building was insured and the insurance money is allocated to this work and cannot be used for other things.
What other buildings has the Diocese also been dealing with in this same time period?
The Diocese of Christchurch is a large diocese and many churches have sustained damage or become dangerous because of the seismic activity that has happened over the last eighteen months. We are very concerned that no one is injured by a church property. Over 25 worship centres have been closed. Five churches have had to be demolished or will be very shortly, along with a number of chapels. A number of these
decisions have had to be made since the December 23 quakes. Significantly St Maryʼs in Timaru, the largest stone parish church in the Diocese, has had to be closed and it is possible with ongoing seismic activity, more may have to be closed for safety. All of these buildings are dearly loved by their parishioners and local communities.
What has been saved from the Cathedral already?
Quite a number of items have already been retrieved including: the eagle from the lectern, the Tukutuku panels, a number of the flags that were hung in the cathedral including the blue ensign from one of the first four ships, the Charlotte Jane and Girls Brigade and Boys Brigade flags. Choral groups organ from the chancel, cathedral choir music, carved stone head from the Pacific chapel, war grave cross from Flanders, chalices (used during communion) and the pounamu door from the aumbry (in the sanctuary of the church used to keep the wafers and wine for communion once they have been blessed).
What are you hoping to save from the cathedral?
Some of the significant heritage items and taonga that we are still hoping to retrieve are: the stained glass windows, Bishop Harperʼs effigy, the organ, the remains of the pulpit and the memorial stones and panels along the walls.
What of the Miyamoto proposal?
The context in which Miyamoto gave an opinion on the Cathedral, has changed since the events of 23 December and the further damage sustained by the cathedral. The Cathedral is now closed due to the danger it poses to human safety.
Why has no international expertise been sought?
Our engineering consultancy, Holmes, are expert and know all there is to know about the Cathedral given their long association with us and the building over the last decade. Over this time, they have gained not only a deep knowledge but a great affection for the Cathedral and we have the utmost confidence in their work.
What does “controlled demolition” actually mean?
The demolition of a building in a manner that allows for the careful removal of some elements that can then be stored for either incorporation in a future building or stored for other possible conservation projects. Conventional demolition of a building does not allow for this.
When will the public be allowed access to the site?
At this stage we do not know when that will be. The future Cathedral works are only part of a number of building demolitions that are still to happen in the Square and these will also be a factor as to when the public can have access to the area.
Are there any plans to build a new Cathedral on the same site?
The preference would be to build on the current site. However, as with all sites in the central city, including the Christchurch Cathedral, safety is the first priority and further investigations would need to be undertaken as part of the future design process.