Battle to save cathedral far from over

CHARLES ANDERSON
Last updated 05:00 01/06/2014
Tourist photographs ChristChurch Cathedral
Joseph Johnson

AS IT STANDS: A tourist photographs the damaged Christ Church Cathedral.

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A group of Anglicans in a small Canterbury community are vowing to take the battle for Christ Church Cathedral to the court of public opinion after a judge lifted a stay on a planned demolition of the 110-year-old building.

Justice Graham Panckhurst released findings on Friday lifting the stay on demolition of the cathedral.

However a small group of Anglicans say the fight is not over.

Akaroa resident Mike Norris organised a group of parishioners to meet and discuss what the decision meant for their battle to restore the cathedral.

"This is the beginning of the next stage of the campaign," he said. "We have gone through the courts, which has not advanced our cause, now it is time to go through the court of public opinion."

In March 2012, the Church Property Trustees (CPT) resolved to demolish the cathedral down to a level of 2 to 3 metres.

In November 2012, the High Court halted the planned demolition after the Great Christchurch Buildings Trust (GCBT), of which Norris is a trustee, sought a binding ruling on whether the Anglican diocese's plans breached an act of Parliament protecting church buildings.

Justice Lester Chisholm found that the terms the CPT held the cathedral under required them to maintain a cathedral on the site, but not necessarily the cathedral as it was before the earthquakes.

Norris said there was concern over how a small group of people could decide the future of a structure that meant so much to so many people.

"We have to get the silent majority to speak up and say they are appalled by this destruction."

Bishop Victoria Matthews said although permission had been granted she was under no illusion that the demolition would happen soon.

The diocese had hoped to build a modern cathedral on the site within 10 years.

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