Cardboard cathedral branded as 'risky'

CHARLIE GATES
Last updated 05:00 21/01/2013

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Anglican leaders are pushing ahead with the cardboard cathedral, despite funding for the project being questioned by a High Court judge.

The move has been branded "risky" and "reckless" by a trust campaigning to save earthquake-damaged Christ Church Cathedral from demolition.

Construction of the $5.3 million cardboard cathedral, a temporary replacement, is being partly funded with $4m of insurance money from Christ Church Cathedral.

But Justice Chisholm said in an interim ruling last year that the insurance money should be used only for a project on the Cathedral Square site.

"Given the site-specific purpose of the cathedral trust, it is difficult to see how any insurance proceeds arising from the insurance over the cathedral could be used off-site," he said.

Cathedral marketing and development manager Craig Dixon said Anglican leaders had decided to continue work until a final judgment was issued this year.

Until then, contractor Naylor Love would be paid with the insurance money.

"The direction from the diocese was that, since it had not been deemed unlawful or illegal to do that, then the contract with Naylor Love would be honoured," Dixon said.

"The diocese is still paying the bills and our understanding is the final ruling on that has yet to be made."

The diocese has sought clarification from the judge on the consequences of his interim ruling.

A final ruling is expected in March.

Dixon said about $2m had been spent on the cardboard cathedral to date.

The move has been branded "risky" and "reckless" by the trust fighting the decision to demolish Christ Church Cathedral.

Former Wigram MP and Great Christchurch Buildings Trust chairman Jim Anderton said Anglican leaders should put the project on hold.

"It is a very risky thing for them to do. The cathedral has to be very careful that it doesn't incur liability for the use of those funds," he aid.

"In my view, if they are advised that their decision is inappropriate, or at worse illegal, and they take no notice, what they are saying is they don't care what the judge says, we are just going to do it anyway."

Work resumed on the cardboard cathedral last week after a Christmas break. Dixon said the new cathedral should be completed by April.

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