Christ Church Cathedral should go

20:41, May 28 2012



Most Cantabrians polled want Christ Church Cathedral demolished, a Press survey reveals.

The poll also showed that most Canterbury residents do not want to spend public money saving the building or running the temporary cardboard cathedral.

The fate of the Anglican cathedral has divided the region, with 54 per cent of those polled favouring demolition and 42 per cent calling for it to be saved.

People with strong feelings about restoring or demolishing the cathedral are divided equally, with 25 per cent each.

The poll comes as campaigners prepare for a rally today calling for the cathedral to be saved.

Opinions Market Research director Karen Selway, who conducted the poll, said the debate over the cathedral was a "heart versus head" issue.

"The polarisation of response demonstrates the strength of feeling within the community and the cathedral's significant role in the fabric of the city," she said.

"The reasons stated for demolition were primarily head-driven, while those for not demolishing the cathedral were more holistic and heart-driven in their reasoning.

"These responses also demonstrate a strong sense of Christchurch residents' ownership of the cathedral."

People who favoured demolition said they were concerned about safety, the extensive earthquake damage to the building and the cost of repairs.

Safety, structural and land concerns were cited by 39 per cent of those polled.

The cost of restoration and the belief the cathedral is too damaged to remain were cited by 19 per cent of respondents.

Typical responses from those favouring demolition included:

 "It's dangerous. Costs way too much to fix it. As a ratepayer, I don't want to pay for it."

 "I agree with the bishop that it is very badly damaged and dangerous."

People who wanted to restore the cathedral said they felt the building was "iconic" and important for tourism.

The most common reason for favouring restoration was its aesthetic and iconic importance, cited by 53 per cent of respondents.

The preservation of Christchurch heritage and the benefit of the building for tourism were the next most popular reasons, with 43 per cent and 11 per cent respectively.

Typical responses from those favouring preservation included:

 "It's a very good tourist attraction and it's always been a Canterbury icon."

 "It's our icon and for me it's Christchurch."

The poll also revealed that Cantabrians do not want to pay for church projects.

Most people are against a government levy or tax to fund restoration, with 63 per cent of those polled against the idea.

People opposed to public funding believed the money should be spent on more important priorities and that the church should fund its own projects. Among people who felt strongly that the cathedral should be retained, 69 per cent were prepared to pay a levy for restoration.

There was a stronger reaction against public funding to run the temporary cardboard cathedral.

Anglican leaders have applied to the Christchurch City Council for a $240,000 grant to help run the temporary cathedral. The poll found that 81 per cent of people were against council funding.

Poll: What you really think.

This is the first comprehensive, credible survey of public opinion on the future of Christchurch.

Opinions Market Research pollsters questioned 359 people in Christchurch and the Waimakariri and Selwyn districts in late April and early May.

Those polled were a representative sample of the population aged 18 and over living in the region. The sample is representative in terms of age, gender and location in accordance with the 2006 census.

The statistical margin of error for the total sample is about 5.2 per cent at a 95 per cent confidence level.


The Press