Temple for Christchurch goes up in flames

20:53, Sep 22 2013

An artwork symbolising the city's earthquake plight has met its symbolic end.

The six-metre high Temple for Christchurch installation was spectacularly burned to the ground at Motukara Raceway last night.

Designed to reflect seismic readings from the February 2011 earthquake, the temple attracted thousands of handwritten comments - from the heartfelt to the wacky - in the nine days it stood on the former Convention Centre site in Peterborough St.

It was built by by local volunteers from wood recycled from demolished houses.

After it left the central city, it was re-assembled and set on fire to symbolise the release of the gathered stories.

Temple for Christchurch project manager and artist Hippathy Valentine said about 500 to 1000 people gathered for what proved a poignant event.

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The weather was surprisingly calm, warm and still.

''It was definitely emotional. You could hear the flickering roar of fire with people sobbing in the background.''

The task of setting the temple alight fell to the winner of a raffle, who threw in the first few torches.

It quickly grew into raging inferno, with flames reaching up to 8m, then died down and smouldered for nearly two hours, Valentine said.

''A lot of people thought it was a strange concept . . . [but] it was beautiful. I'm happy.''

The project cost about $40,000, which included a significant donation from an American philanthropist.

Valentine said he was already considering taking on a similar project, but would give it a few years.

The Press