Cathedral future now uncertain

CHARLIE GATES
Last updated 05:00 16/06/2011
WHERE TO NOW?: The Christ Church Cathedral suffered more damage on Monday and its future is now uncertain.
CIVIL DEFENCE
WHERE TO NOW?: The Christ Church Cathedral suffered more damage on Monday and its future is now uncertain.

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Christchurch Earthquake 2011

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Earthquake-damaged Christ Church Cathedral could be demolished and rebuilt further west, senior clergy say.

Bishop Victoria Matthews and Dean Peter Beck say the cathedral needs to be in the centre of the city.

If quake-damaged land was abandoned in the eastern suburbs and the focal point of the city shifted west, the cathedral would be rebuilt in the new centre, Matthews said.

"If the whole city moves west, we need to be in the centre of the city. We want to be in the centre of the city as an icon," she said.

"What is important is we keep asking the big questions and we don't get tied up in details. The big question is if the cathedral is the heart and soul of the city, where do we place the cathedral?

"In the worst sense, it is a moveable feast. I think there will be a huge amount riding on the land report, when we find out what parts of the city will be rebuilt.

"The centre of the city can't be in isolation. It is in relationship to the rest of the city. The land report will be of key importance."

Beck said: "It seems to me that wherever the centre of the city is going to be, we would like the cathedral to be in the city centre, where it always has been.

"`If the city moves west, then the cathedral needs to be at the heart of the city.

"The Cathedral in the Square has been in the heart of our city almost from the beginning, but wherever the heart of the city is, that is where we will be."

Matthews said she had "every expectation" of rebuilding in Cathedral Square but "would be a fool if [she] didn't think of every possible outcome".

She said the Monday aftershocks and the destruction of the rose window raised questions over whether the cathedral needed to be deconsecrated and demolished.

"The decision has yet to be made," she said.

"There isn't a time frame on the decision. It could be in the next month or it could be the next three months

"We know some of it will have to come down because of the damage, but whether we have to take the whole thing down is still a live question."

She said any new cathedral would be built to serve different needs.

"The needs of 150 to 160 years ago are very different to the needs of the city now.

"The new cathedral needs to have more office space and space for a children's programme and space for morning tea after church services," she said.

"A question that will be asked is, `What is safe for the future?' We need something that is much more forgiving in the event of an earthquake."

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Beck said the cathedral would be rebuilt.

"What we do know is we are going to rebuild the cathedral. What we don't know is how we are going to do that," he said.

"There is a huge variety of options and it is far too early to contemplate that. There are so many things that we don't know."

- The Press

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