Christ Church Cathedral survey 'misleading', says restoration campaigner

Some have complained that delays in deciding what to do with Christ Church Cathedral are holding up development ...
IAIN MCGREGOR/FAIRFAX NZ

Some have complained that delays in deciding what to do with Christ Church Cathedral are holding up development elsewhere in Cathedral Square.

An Anglican survey on restoration options for Christ Church Cathedral is "misleading" and a "delaying tactic", says heritage campaigner Mark Belton.

The Church Property Trustees (CPT), who manage Anglican diocese buildings, commissioned the survey earlier this month. CPT general manager Gavin Holley said the survey was commissioned to "give us up-to-date information".

The survey asks people if they prefer a modern cathedral or a restoration. Then it asks if the fact a modern cathedral would not require Government funds, would take seven years to complete and is unlikely to have an impact on rates changes that opinion. It also asks if the fact restoration means the Anglican church "will need to raise $56 million" and full insurance "is likely to be $1000 a day" changes that opinion.

A screengrab of survey questions from the online part of the Anglican poll.
SUPPLIED

A screengrab of survey questions from the online part of the Anglican poll.

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Anglican leaders are in negotiations with the Government over a restoration deal for the cathedral.

The Government deal involves the $104m cost of restoration being funded by the Anglican's $42m insurance payout, a $10m Government grant, a $15m Government loan and a $15m funding pledge from the Great Christchurch Buildings Trust (GCBT). This leaves a shortfall of $26m. The CPT says the shortfall is $56m as the Government's $15m loan would need to be paid back and the GCBT's funding pledge is still to be realised. The CPT also points to an additional $4m needed for fundraising costs, taking the total cost to $108 million.

Restore Christ Church Cathedral Group co-chairman Mark Belton says the survey questions are "misleading".

Restore Christ Church Cathedral Group co-chairman Mark Belton says the survey questions are "misleading".

​The survey also asks for views on taxpayer and ratepayer contributions to the cathedral restoration and if people would be willing to donate to the project. After those questions, the survey asks people to vote again on which option they prefer for the cathedral.

Restore Christ Church Cathedral Group co-chairman Mark Belton said some questions in the survey were "appalling".

"I am thoroughly disillusioned and frustrated by it," he said.

"They are leading and misleading questions. It is another delaying tactic when what is needed is resolution.

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"It is time to be more honest about this. I and many others have kept quiet in the hope that the church is acting in good faith and the poll is further evidence that they have not been.

"The survey is so manipulated. It is about trying to generate support for something else, which is not what is on the table for negotiation."

The CPT has denied accusations it is not acting in good faith in negotiations with the Government over restoration.

A spokesman for the Anglican diocese said there would be no comment until the results of the poll were published. He would not say when that would be, and would not say how people could participate in the survey. 

Christchurch-based research agency Research First is carrying out the survey for the diocese and has a link to the questionnaire on its website, researchfirst.co.nz.

 - Stuff

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