Christ Church Cathedral shortfall could be raised in five years, Government report says

The $55m funding shortfall for the cathedral could be raised in five years, experts say.
IAIN McGREGOR/FAIRFAX NZ

The $55m funding shortfall for the cathedral could be raised in five years, experts say.

A funding shortfall of more than $50 million for restoration of the Christ Church Cathedral could be raised in three to five years, according to a Government's working group report on the building.

The Working Group report, released under the Official Information Act this week, was delivered to the Government in December. The group was tasked by the Government in July last year to develop a feasible and costed plan for restoration of the cathedral.

The report includes advice from fundraising consultancy AskRIGHT about the feasibility of raising $55m for the restoration. Restoration of the cathedral is estimated to cost about $104m. It would be funded by the Anglican's $42m insurance payout and a $10m government grant. That leaves a $52m funding gap.

The report sets a fundraising target of $55m. That would be "formidable", but achievable, it states.

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"If the guidance is followed the entity responsible for raising the funds can proceed with a high degree of confidence of success."

The report also states that the Great Christchurch Buildings Trust (GCBT) has "confirmed and identified" donations worth $13.7m.

Bishop Victoria Matthews is reportedly nervous about embarking on a restoration project with such an ambitious fundraising target.

"The bishop has always had a problem with the fundraising aspect of it," a source close to the process said in February.

The report was released as Labour and Green MPs met with Christchurch Regeneration Minister Nicky Wagner on Friday to discuss how to break the deadlock over the cathedral.

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A Government deal to restore the cathedral will be voted on by the Anglican synod in September. The deal involves the majority of the $104m construction 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 GCBT.

The report recommends that Anglicans retain ownership of the building.

"In our view, a change in ownership would spark another series of acrimonious debates and would greatly reduce the level of funds that would be achieved through philanthropy."

The research points to recent successful fundraising campaigns like one run by the University of Auckland, which has raised $152m since September, and the Auckland War Memorial Museum, which has raised $64.6m.

The working group report recommends the Christchurch City Council consider a capital contribution to the restoration costs.

It also recommends the council contribute $500,000 a year to support the estimated $1m annual running costs for a restored cathedral – more than double the $240,000 the council gave the cathedral every year from 2004-05 to 2010-11.

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said any funding proposals would be considered in the council's long term plan (LTP).

"We have always, as a city, supported the visitor experience recognising that the Cathedral attracted a lot of visitors who were visiting Christ Church Cathedral - not an Anglican church.  How we contemplate that will form part of any proposal in our LTP. I am in favour of this approach."

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is expected to announce in Christchurch on Sunday that he will make restoration of the cathedral a condition of any post-election coalition deal. Peters made a similar pledge before the election in 2014.

 - Stuff

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