Who has power over the Christ Church Cathedral?

Bishop Victoria Matthews.

Bishop Victoria Matthews.

Who has the power to break the deadlock over the Christ Church Cathedral?

Bishop Victoria Matthews

Bishop Victoria Matthews has perhaps the most power over the fate of the cathedral. She is the head of the organisation that owns the land and building. She has a third of the vote at the synod and sits on the board of the Church Property Trustees, which administers Anglican land and buildings.

She cannot be removed from office unless she is incapacitated or does something immoral.

The only mechanism that could override her authority is the Government's earthquake recovery power.

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Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister Nicky Wagner.

Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister Nicky Wagner.

Christchurch Regeneration Minister Nicky Wagner

Nicky Wagner has enormous power in the city.

The Greater Christchurch Regeneration Act gives Wagner the power to acquire land and demolish buildings without consent.

But she would need Cabinet approval for any plan that would require major funding.

Great Christchurch Buildings Trust co-chairman Philip Burdon.

Great Christchurch Buildings Trust co-chairman Philip Burdon.

Great Christchurch Buildings Trust

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The trust is a well-resourced and organised campaign group with powerful Christchurch connections. It is lobbying for the restoration of the cathedral.

Co-chairs Philip Burdon and Jim Anderton, both former MPs, have knowledge and experience of how the law, government and power works.

They could use that funding and expertise to tie the Anglicans up in the courts for a long time by appealing any planning consents in the Environment Court.

The group is also funding an advertising campaign to promote its views.

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel.

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel.

Mayor Lianne Dalziel has limited powers to intervene.

She can name and shame Anglicans for allowing the cathedral to slow regeneration and charge them fees if the building impinges on council land, but she does not have emergency powers like Wagner.


The 225-member governing body for Canterbury Anglicans includes elected lay members and priests. It meets once a year to vote on matters related to the church.

But the power of the synod is limited. The synod is chaired by the bishop and the members vote in three houses. The bishop has one vote, the clergy have one vote and lay members have one vote. The initial vote will be a yea or nay verbal vote, but any member can call for a division, which leads to a secret ballot. A decision is passed if it has the support of two or more of the three votes.

In 2013, the synod voted in favour of a modern replacement cathedral in an informal show of hands.

The People

Polls show Christchurch people are divided over the fate of the cathedral.

Their main influence is at the polling booth.

This voting power limits options for Wagner and Dalziel and guides them towards pragmatic rather than autocratic outcomes.

Wagner could feasibly use her powers to demolish the cathedral, but that would risk alienating a large bloc of voters and still leave the Government with the problem of an empty site.

Restoration would likely avoid legal action and create a symbol of action and rebirth in the city centre.

 - Stuff


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