Cardboard cathedral finally unveiled

06:59, Aug 02 2013
Cardboard cathedral exterior
WELCOMING: The cathedral's bright exterior warms an otherwise chilly Christchurch afternoon.
Cardboard Cathedral interior
BIG DRAW: Today's emotional ceremony attracted a crowd including all ages.
Cardboard Cathedral handover
HANDOVER: Scott Watson, of Naylor Love, the main contractor, presented Bishop Matthews with a cardboard key at today's service.
Cathedral chair
WELL CRAFTED: The carved Bishop’s Chair stands proudly in the almost-completed cathedral.
Cathedral altar
FIRST GLIMPSE: The ceremony offered a debut look at the cardboard cathedral's interior.
Bishop with key
HAPPY MOMENT: Bishop Victoria Matthews with the ceremonial cardboard key.

Christchurch has been given its first look at the new Cardboard Cathedral during an emotional ceremony to mark the structure changing hands from contractors to the Anglican diocese.

Bishop Victoria Matthews spoke through tears as she welcomed a small gathering into the almost-completed cathedral today, acknowledging the structure was testament to the fact ''the city has changed''.

After the service, Matthews admitted the surprise bout of emotion startled even herself.

''It's really quite overwhelming. I virtually never get emotional in public and I was absolutely overwhelmed at the significance of the moment,'' she said.

Director Scott Watson of Naylor Love, the cathedral's main contractor, then handed Matthews a fitting cardboard key to mark the handover.

There had earlier been questions raised over whether the cathedral would open in time to host planned concerts as part of the Joyfully Un-Munted Festival, celebrating the opening of the transitional church, which were scheduled to begin on Tuesday.

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However, Matthews had every confidence in the building opening on schedule, despite a down-to-the-wire day yesterday readying the cathedral for the key ceremony.

''Yesterday there was no furniture in it ... and to come in today and to see it look like a church, it's great,'' she said.

''Tomorrow, Sunday and Monday will be very full of getting things ready but I think on Tuesday we'll be good to go.''

There was still some ''tidying up to do'', she said, as the exposed concrete floors, boxes stacked around the premises and unfixed furniture indicated.

The temporary Anglican cathedral, designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban and incorporating 98 beams encased in cardboard, had been subject to a number of construction delays after initially being scheduled to open in February.

It was an especially momentous moment for Diamond Harbour resident David Boyd, who was ordained in the old Christ Church Cathedral 50 years ago.

''It's wonderful, just to come in and see the new cathedral and realise it's going to start up again,'' he said.

His wife, Anne, said it was ''significant that it is simple, because of all the loss that we've had anything elaborate wouldn't be right''.

Matthews said the cathedral would be open on Tuesday at 9am for the public, and the Christchurch City Choir would perform at 6pm in the first of 10 concerts to be held over nine days as part of the festival.

A small service would be held for regulars ''very quietly'' over the next few days.

The public would then be invited back to worship at the cathedral on August 11, followed by a dedication service on August 15.

The Press