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Morrinsville's Catholic church demolished

STEVE EDWARDS AND RACHEL THOMAS
Last updated 13:13 26/03/2014
Morrinsville’s St Joseph’s Catholic Church
Steve Edwards/Fairfax NZ

TORN DOWN: Morrinsville’s St Joseph’s Catholic Church has been demolished, reportedly due to earthquake risk.

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Morrinsville's Catholic church has been demolished but details of a new building remain under wraps.

The distinctive St Joseph's structure in Thames St, opened in 1965, has been demolished reportedly because of earthquake risk.

But church leaders are staying quiet about why the building was knocked down or what plans are for the future.

Matamata-Piako District council communications officer Nicole Nooyen said an assessment was carried out on the church by a structural engineer.

This report showed that the building met less than 33 per cent of the current code, classifying it as earthquake-prone.

Ms Nooyen said the building was given a ranking of category 3, which meant it was identified as having a "very low risk" in a moderate earthquake.

"Our policy does not require category 3 buildings to be demolished," she said. "Any demolition or strengthening is at the discretion of the owner."

Fairfax Media made several attempts to interview Father Mark O'Keefe, pastor of St Joseph's Parish, over the last two weeks but he declined each time.

Secretary Telisa Collett returned a phone call on behalf of Fr O'Keefe on March 18, the day before the church was completely knocked down.

"Father Mark is not really taking interviews about the church process at this time. We have put out the information that we have at this time but when there are new developments you are more than welcome to get in touch then."

Greg Schmidt, general manager for the Catholic Diocese of Hamilton, referred questions back to Fr O'Keefe.

"I don't know a lot about it," Mr Schmidt said. "I know they need approval and I know there's plans for a new church but I don't have the details of the timing."

Parishioner Theresa Watene said the demolition should be completed over the next week but couldn't provide details of when construction of a new building would begin.

"We're meeting at the school at the moment so there's no major hurry. We want to keep the parish centre [behind the church] intact so we have got to see how the demolition goes, then clear the space and go from there."

Mrs Watene said parishioners have made pledges towards funding the build of the new church, but could not comment on the total cost.

"We have had pledges from the parish and we will see what we have got and what we can build."

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