Work on cathedral demolition under way

CHARLEY MANN
Last updated 10:14 27/03/2012
christ church
KIRK HARGREAVES/FAIRFAX NZ
SCARRED: A more distant view of Christ Church Cathedral's crumbling west wall seen from a basket raised by a crane.
christ church
KIRK HARGREAVES/FAIRFAX NZ
BROKEN: Rubble encroaches on rows of seats in the nave of the cathedral.

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Work has begun to deconstruct Christ Church Cathedral – and it is not likely to stop.

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) operations general manager Warwick Isaacs said yesterday that demolishing the historic building was the only viable option, considering the safety of those working on the site.

"I think we can all see it is badly damaged," he said.

"Each time I come in it's getting worse. Just the small and minor aftershocks are continuing to degrade the building.

"People who think other than demolition haven't got it quite right."

The Wizard of New Zealand, Ian Brackenbury Channell, has vowed to continue protesting against the demolition outside the Canterbury Museum every Sunday at noon "to keep the pressure up".

"We will be outside the museum every Sunday unless it's raining hard," he said last night.

The Wizard has collected thousands of signatures from people opposed to the demolition.

"We don't believe any other town in the world would want to knock down such a beautiful building," he said. "There must be a hidden agenda."

He said that heritage was being destroyed "left, right and centre".

Isaacs said deconstruction work could "probably not" be halted once it had begun.

After the Anglican Diocese took charge of the demolition, any changes would be "something they have to work with their engineers on".

The initial deconstruction work, taking place over the next six to eight weeks, would involve removing the cathedral's windows and pulling down the tower.

Isaacs said the work "takes out the human safety risk".

"If something does collapse, it is a lot safer for the workers," he said.

The initial demolition would be done from above, using a crane with a man-cage attached, he said.*

Isaacs said he hoped the organisation would present a demolition plan to Cera in the next four weeks.

The two authorities had so far worked well together, he said.

* This article initially said Cera was involved in the demolition management. This is untrue, The Press apologises for the error.

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