Magnate steps up fight for cathedral
A high-profile Christchurch businessman is fronting a nationwide television commercial as the fight to save the Christ Church Cathedral escalates.
Mortgage and real estate magnate Mike Pero is appearing in 60-second commercials being aired mainly during breakfast slots on TV One, TV3, Prime and Canterbury Television, backing the cathedral's restoration.
The commercial also features the pro-restoration views of supposedly local people in a range of ages and genders.
The fate of the landmark remains in limbo more than three years after it was damaged in the February 2011 earthquake.
The Anglican diocese is keen to build a new church on the Cathedral Square site, while opponents want the existing cathedral restored.
Pero told The Press he paid close to $20,000 for the advertising "because I think it's a damn waste destroying a perfectly good building".
"I'm one of the few in Christchurch who has restored 100-year-old buildings in Christchurch [and] I was batting to have it removed until I got the facts about 18 months ago," he said.
Pero said he was not an "extremist seeking a soap box" and had no conflicts or alliances with the church or pro-restoration groups. The advertising campaign would run "until we start the restoration process and save one of our country's best heritage buildings".
Anglican diocese spokesman Jayson Rhodes said Pero's comments were "nothing new".
"Not once has he engaged with the trustees and the information that they have. It's another voice saying the same old thing," he said.
"We put all the facts out recently [and] those are the facts that we're working with. He seems to have different facts."
The diocese has estimated the restoration would cost between $104 million and $221m, while the Great Christchurch Buildings Trust, which opposes new building plans, put the figure at about $67m.