Damaged Temuka church faces bulldozer

Last updated 13:05 02/12/2011
Trinity
THE TIMARU HERALD
COMING DOWN: Temuka's Trinity Presbyterian Church in Temuka will be demolished next month.

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Christchurch Earthquake 2011

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The earthquake-damaged Trinity Presbyterian Church in Temuka will be demolished amid an insurance crisis facing all churches.

The 120-year-old church will be bulldozed next month after it was damaged in the September 2010 earthquake.

The parish has been forced into demolishing it as costs to repair it were prohibitive and insurance cover was enough to meet only demolition costs.

A decision to bulldoze the church was made after a meeting between the representative council and congregation.

Services have been held in the parish hall next to the church, on the corner of Hally Tce and Wilmshurst Rd, after engineers declared the church unsafe.

Subsidence was noted on the north side of the building, material had fallen from the roof and cracking appeared around the ceiling.

Struts have been supporting its west wall.

Trinity Presbyterian Church deputy chairwoman Rosalie Walker said the decision to demolish was based on the cost to fix it.

"Once you start fixing it, you have to do it to council earthquake standards, and the cost is quite prohibitive. With the images of Christchurch before us, there's no way we would want to be in the church without it being strengthened."

She hoped there was enough money to extend the hall for services, but that depended on insurance.

Treasurer Colin Walker said replacement insurance was out of the question for most churches built before 1935.

"The dollars don't add up to me," he said.

Ansvar, which has insured 75 per cent of New Zealand churches, including Trinity, intends to withdraw from New Zealand.

The firm will cancel its policies at the end of this year, regardless of whether they have time left to run.

In September, Ansvar, facing $700 million in claims from the Canterbury earthquakes, said it would no longer renew quake cover when policies expired.

The cost of reinstatement work to the Temuka church triggered the council's quake-prone and dangerous buildings policy.

Under the present policy, a building must be upgraded to 34 per cent of current design requirements.

Ansvar will continue to offer cover to New Zealand churches for material damage – for liability, fire and burglary loss – but not earthquake damage for the balance of the policy year.

A deconsecration service will be held at the church on December 10.

SOUTH CANTERBURY CHURCHES DAMAGED

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September 2010: Five churches closed. St Mary's Church tower pinnacle falls; the Church of the Holy Innocents at Mt Peel is significantly damaged; St Paul's Timaru Presbyterian Church suffers cracking; Temuka's St Joseph's Church spire is left balancing precariously; Trinity Presbyterian Church is damaged.

October 2010: Services cancelled at St Paul's Timaru Presbyterian Church while a full engineer's report awaited.

April 2011: Chalmers Church Friendship Centre in Elizabeth St is deemed off-limits.

November 2011: The Timaru Presbyterian Parish Council closes St Paul's and Chalmers churches.

December 2011: Trinity Presbyterian Church to be demolished.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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