Treaty based partnership at core of church's developing vision
The rebuild of Taranaki Cathedral will go beyond bricks and mortar, with the church leadership seeking to develop a genuine partnership between Māori and Pākehā.
About 100 people attended Sunday's hui at the Peace Hall on Vivian St to consider a vision for the restoration of the church.
Archbishop Philip Richardson told the audience the creation of a Treaty of Waitangi based and gospel-focused community was at the forefront of the project, along with the development of a complementary governance structure.
Consultation with Māori leaders and iwi groups, including Ngāti Te Whiti, was ongoing and the Anglican church wanted to involve as many people as possible in creating its vision, he said.
"We need to get this conversation beyond ourselves."
During the hui, tributes were also paid to Sir Paul Reeves, who died in 2011.
Reeves, a former Governor General, had a close association with the region as a direct descendent of Te Whiti o Rongomai. A former parish vicar based in Okato, Reeves also went on to become the first Māori Archbishop.
Richardson recounted the influence Reeves had - a legacy he hoped would be embodied within the church. This included upholding the principles of peace, justice and righteousness along with a belief the church should be a place for everyone.
Richardson also formally sought permission from Reeves' whānau to name the atrium development of the cathedral rebuild project after him.
Sarah Reeves, who granted the request, said she and her mother Beverley Lady Reeves, supported the church's kaupapa.
She was aware of how much potential her father believed the cathedral had to become a place of peace and reconciliation in the community.
Developing a renewed purpose for the church is part of a five year programme to restore the Taranaki Cathedral.
It first opened in September 1846 and is the oldest standing stone church in New Zealand.
However due to being assessed as quake-prone, the church was closed in 2015 for repairs, which will come at a cost of $15 million.
The rebuild received a boost over the weekend when Prime Minister Bill English announced that an extra $30m over four years would be added to the Regional Culture & Heritage Fund, the criteria for which would be expanded to include heritage-listed places of worship in need of strengthening.
As part of any successful application, the government would supply a third of the money required, followed by a similarly sized contribution from the organisation and a community based or philanthropic organisation.