Fundraising for Christ Church Cathedral restoration begins

Bishop Victoria Matthews gives a progress report on the future of the Christ Church Cathedral.
KIRK HARGREAVES/FAIRFAX NZ

Bishop Victoria Matthews gives a progress report on the future of the Christ Church Cathedral.

The race is on to raise funds for what is thought to be a $75 million shortfall for the potential restoration of the Christ Church Cathedral.

The Anglican Church is resisting a full commitment to reinstate the earthquake-damaged building because of concerns over cost, but campaigners have full faith enough money can be raised.

A report by Government-appointed mediator Miriam Dean QC found the cathedral could be either reconstructed to be "indistinguishable" from its pre-quake state or replaced. 

Great Christchurch Buildings Trust co-chair Philip Burdon, who is fighting for restoration of the Christ Church Cathedral.
DAVID HALLETT/FAIRFAX NZ

Great Christchurch Buildings Trust co-chair Philip Burdon, who is fighting for restoration of the Christ Church Cathedral.

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee wanted certainty about the affordability of the project before any option was chosen.

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Great Christchurch Buildings Trust co-chair Philip Burdon, who is fighting for restoration, said $6m had already been pledged by supporters, including $1m from himself, $4m from an English rich-lister, and $1m from another anonymous Kiwi.

The church estimated a $75m shortfall on the project when taking in to account long-term maintenance, but Burdon believed about $60m from the public was needed, on top of the insurance payout.

"I regard it as a challenge, but there's no doubt we can achieve it."

Campaigners would now put a call for funds out to the general public.

"I would be very confident that the city by in large will be behind this project.

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"We have to put our money where our mouth is."

There had been a lot of sympathy shown by "substantial individuals with substantial wealth".

His understanding of the breakdown of the costs included about $67m for construction, with 12 per cent inflation over the five to seven-year construction period, and a contingency fee of about $7m.

"A useful saving could be achieved if completed in those timeframes."

Bishop Victoria Matthews partially endorsed a plan to reinstate the quake-damaged church by 2022, but did not rule out building a new, contemporary cathedral in its place by 2019 for $66m.

The Church Property Trust, which owns the building, wanted to "move past the current deadlock to find a way forward to re-establish a cathedral in Cathedral Square", she said.

It could not commit to the $105m estimated reinstatement pricetag when "we actually don't have anything remotely close to that".

An Anglican Diocese of Christchurch spokeswoman said it estimated a $75m shortfall after the use of the $39m insurance payout.

"It takes in to account estimates of whole of life costs for ongoing maintenance of the building. That is an approximate based on reinstatement."

She refused to say whether the church believed it could raise the funds, but did say it was willing to move forward in working with the Government on a solution.

Burdon understood there was another $5.5m available through the cathedral chapter's insurance payout to cover costs of chattels like the organ. 

Talks with the Government on working towards a reinstatement plan would start in the New Year, with further announcements expected in April.

Despite its support of the building's restoration, Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said the city council had no money set aside in the city's Long Term Plan for the Cathedral.

 - Stuff

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