Historic church still facing massive bill

LUKE PAUL
Last updated 05:00 15/05/2014
St Mary of the Angels
ROSS GIBLIN/ Fairfax NZ
CLOSED CHURCH: St Mary of the Angels has not been open to parishioners for months.

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Wellington's iconic St Mary of the Angels church in Boulcott St is no closer to raising $9.5 million for earthquake proofing despite assistance last week from Wellington City Council.

An amendment to the council's budget, proposed at last week's council meeting by Iona Pannett, was passed, giving 133 historic buildings five years of rates remissions.

St Mary of the Angels, which is a category 1 historic building, was severely damaged in last year's 6.5 magnitude earthquake and has been locked since.

Parish priest Barry Scannell said he did not believe the amendment would be any help in restoring the historic building. "We don't pay on the church anyway. We only pay rates for water and sewage."

Under the Local Government Rating Act, the church is exempt from rates because it is not used for profit and is accessible to the public. The parish would continue to pay the same rates for buildings on its grounds, while paying nothing on the church itself, which had always been the case, said Scannell.

He was not sure when fundraising for the 98-year-old church would begin. "We are still in the planning stage. Talk to me in two or three months."

He said that though the council had been supportive, and had provided $30,000 towards design plans, he hoped it could offer more assistance.

"With the encouraging words they have said about heritage buildings, I hope they could support the fundraising in some way."

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