Cash sought for cardboard cathedral

CASH NEEDED: Anglican leaders have asked for public money to help run the transitional cathedral, shown here in an artist's rendering.
CASH NEEDED: Anglican leaders have asked for public money to help run the transitional cathedral, shown here in an artist's rendering.

Ratepayers will be asked to stump up $240,000 to help operate Christchurch's planned cardboard cathedral.

Anglican leaders are asking for the public money, despite tensions over the decision to largely demolish the iconic Christ Church Cathedral.

Former Christchurch Mayor Garry Moore believes the funding should be refused.

A city centre site for the cardboard cathedral was announced yesterday.

The cardboard cathedral, designed by world-renowned Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, will be built on the former site of the St John's church on the corner of Madras and Hereford streets overlooking Latimer Square.

The building will act as a home for Anglicans for up to ten years while their earthquake-damaged cathedral is largely demolished and a new one is rebuilt.

The original St John's church was demolished after being badly damaged in the Canterbury earthquakes.

The cardboard building will cost $5.3 million and cathedral leaders hope to have it completed by November for the visit of Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.

Construction costs will be paid for with $4 million in insurance money, and extra fundraising will take place to cover the predicted shortfall.

Cathedral leaders have applied to the Christchurch City Council for $240,000 a year to help fund the operation of the temporary home, rather than the construction.

The Anglican church used to receive an annual grant of $240,000 for the operation of the cathedral, but that stopped in July last year.

The new application will be considered by councillors in July.

Parker said the row over the future of the original cathedral would not influence any funding decision.

"I wouldn't be thinking about it in light of that. It will be treated on its merits like any other application," he said. "Those external arguments will be left aside."

Cathedral marketing and development manager, Rev Craig Dixon, said he hoped councillors would back the cardboard cathedral.

"If the council are not in some way excited I would be surprised," he said.

Former Christchurch Mayor Garry Moore said the Anglican church should not be given the funding as they did not involve the public in the decision to largely demolish the cathedral.

"There was a partnership between the city and the Anglican church. I think the bishop has shown she has absolutely no interest in being in partnership with the city," he said.

"If you are prepared to put your paw out to accept funding from the ratepayer, you have to put your other paw out to hold their hand when there is need for partnership. If I was the mayor, I would be sitting back and saying you have failed the test. I am very disappointed as the person that fought hard to get them that funding in the first place."

Council and Anglican leaders have been at loggerheads over the future of the Christ Church Cathedral.

Internal council emails from last year revealed that staff felt frozen out of the decision making process for the cathedral. In December, council staff recommended no public land or money be provided for the cardboard cathedral.

In March, Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker criticised the decision to largely demolish the cathedral.

"I find it difficult to understand why there was not a compromise that could have been reached. I am very disappointed about the outcome," he said.

Bishop Victoria Matthews said the cardboard cathedral was good news for the city.

"I think people are very excited about this," she said.

"It is a significant symbol for the rebuild of the city."

The cardboard cathedral will use strong cardboard tubes for its A-frame structure. The roof will be covered in an opaque plastic material to keep the building watertight.

The Press