Frequently Asked Questions
Christ Church Cathedral Reinstatement Project
Frequently Asked Questions as at May 2019
What happened to the Cathedral?
A devastating earthquake struck Christchurch on 22 February 2011. It took the lives of 185 people, injured many others and destroyed homes and businesses. Although there was no loss of life or serious injury in the Cathedral itself during the earthquake, the tower of Christ Church Cathedral toppled and the main Cathedral building was damaged.
The Cathedral was damaged again in the June and December 2011 aftershocks. It is currently unsafe to enter and is yet to be stabilised.
The Cathedral building (not the tower and spire) had been seismically strengthened, which saved it from total collapse, but the earthquakes that struck the city in 2011 were particularly damaging.
What happened to the Tower?
The tower collapsed in the February 2011 earthquake. Its collapse caused substantial damage to the front (western porch) of the Cathedral and undermined the adjacent walls.
Some of the remaining tower was deconstructed as it was deemed unsafe.
What is the history of the Cathedral?
Christ Church Cathedral has long been the iconic symbol of the Christchurch, as well as its namesake.
The foundation stone for the Anglican Cathedral was laid in 1864, the nave and tower were consecrated in 1881 and the transepts, chancel and apse were completed in 1904. The Visitor Centre was opened in 1994.
Christ Church Cathedral is highly significant in terms of Christchurch’s colonial history. Christchurch was the first city in New Zealand. To be granted city status by Royal Charter in 1856 it needed to have an Anglican cathedral (the seat of a Bishop). The Bishop’s chair (Cathedra), was retrieved from the Cathedral after the earthquakes and is in use now in the Transitional Cathedral.
Why has it taken so long for there to be a project to reinstate it?
The Cathedral holds a high-profile place in Christchurch – so much so that when faced with a daunting repair bill, due to earthquake damage, there was a passionate and difficult debate over its future. The debate divided many in the community and resulted in a lack of progress in relation to the Cathedral.
In May 2017, the then Bishop Victoria Matthews announced that the future of the Cathedral would be determined by the upcoming Diocesan Synod. In response the New Zealand Government and Christchurch City Council, backed by key donors, proposed a way forward for reinstatement. The proposal was supported by Synod in September 2017.
This led to the signing of an historic joint venture agreement in August 2018, which cements the path to reinstating the Cathedral.
The offer of support from the Government and Council was based on the work of the Cathedral Working Group, which included two trustees from the Church Property Trustees, one from the Great Christchurch Buildings Trust and two-Government-appointed independent members. The working group was set up to investigate and recommend a viable way to reinstate Christ Church Cathedral.
You can find out more on this at: www.ccwg.org.nz
What does Reinstatement mean?
Reinstatement is a combination of repair, restoration, reconstruction/rebuild and seismic strengthening. Reinstating the Cathedral means that, for most people, it would look the same as it did pre-earthquake. The reinstatement will retain as many of the heritage features and as much of the gothic revival design as possible and, where practicable, the original materials will be re-used. Some deconstruction will likely be required to make the building safe.
What is the cost of the Project?
The cost of reinstatement will be clearer once the concept design, which is underway now, is finalised.
What will the reinstated Cathedral look (and feel) like internally?
For most people, it will be just the same in appearance as pre-earthquake. However, it is likely that some signs of reinforcing may be visible. These will be made as inconspicuous as possible.
What is happening to the organ?
The existing organ will need to be removed, repaired and reinstated. It was refurbished just prior to the earthquakes, but its existing condition is unknown.
What happened to the Cathedral bells?
The 13 bells were retrieved in August 2011. Cathedral Chapter organised their restoration in the English Midlands town of Loughborough, where they were originally cast in 1978. The bells were checked, polished and given new fittings and an additional bell was made to commemorate those who died in the earthquake. They are currently in storage.
Who is involved in this project?
The main parties are Church Property Trustees (CPT) which own the Cathedral on behalf of the Christchurch Anglican Diocese, Christ Church Cathedral Reinstatement Trust (CCRT) which is tasked with leading the fundraising effort and Christ Church Cathedral Reinstatement Limited (CCRL) – the charitable company that was established to deliver the reinstatement project.
What is the Joint Venture Agreement?
The Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) brings together the trusts representing the diocese and public interests to create a special company to carry out the reinstatement.
The agreement sets how the reinstatement will be implemented, executed and completed. Among other things, it covers the ownership and management of CCRL and the rights and obligations of its shareholders (CPT and CCRT).
A summary of the agreement can be found at: https://reinstate.org.nz/partners
What is the Joint Venture Company?
Christ Church Cathedral Reinstatement Limited (CCRL) is the company that will deliver the reinstatement project.
Its directors are Justin Murray (Chair), Lindsay Crossen, Helen Trappitt and Anthony Leighs.
The Project Director is Keith Paterson.
The company is carrying out a robust review of the methodologies and budget for reinstatement.
The project will be completed in phases:
- Main Cathedral:
- stabilisation work to enable safe access to the Cathedral; and
- reinstatement of the Main Cathedral;
- Ancillary Buildings: Reinstatement of the Ancillary Buildings and the Visitor Centre;
- Tower: Reinstatement of the Tower.
How long will the project take?
The project is expected to take seven to ten years.
How will the Anglican Church, the Cathedral Chapter and heritage groups have input into design and project decisions?
Ongoing stakeholder engagement is a key priority for the project.
As key stakeholders and project partners, members of the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch and the heritage community will have ongoing input into design and functionality discussions.
Do you have records on all the internal features? Are you sure you can replace them?
The church has good records on what was in the Cathedral, as well as plans and photographs.
Everything that was moveable, other than the chairs – such as plate, Eucharistic garments, banners and altar frontals were salvaged by Cathedral Chapter after the February 2011 earthquake. They were in the chancel and vestries areas at the back of the Cathedral that weren’t as badly damaged as the front. At that time, they were in a yellow-carded part of the Cathedral, which meant they could be accessed under the supervision of engineers. After the June 2011 aftershocks, no further access was permitted into the structure.
Some are in use now in the Transitional Cathedral such as the Bishops chair (Cathedra), the eagle Lectern and the altar frontals.
Church Property Trustees organised the removal and storage of almost all of the stained glass windows (excluding the Rose Window which was extensively damaged). The Tukutuku wall panels were also salvaged and are in storage.
What couldn’t be salvaged?
The congregational chairs remain in the Cathedral. Many have been damaged, but drone footage shows that some are still intact.
The Carrington altar is still inside. Its condition will be determined as the reinstatement progresses. On the walls, most of the encaustic tiling, inscribed panels and plaques appear to be intact.
The extent to which the remaining interior objects and features can be salvaged will be established during the reinstatement process.
Who will own/be responsible for the Cathedral once it is rebuilt?
The Cathedral will be handed back to CPT once the project is complete, to be occupied by the Dean, Chapter and Cathedral community.
How does the Cathedral project fit in to longer-term plans for Cathedral Square?
Once the Cathedral reinstatement is complete, the Cathedral will be handed back to CPT and the Dean and Chapter. The Cathedral has always served a religious, and community function, as well as being an attraction for tourists. It is anticipated it will continue to do so.
The Project team is working with other parties, such as Christchurch City Council and Regenerate Christchurch, around their plans for the Square, but primarily as a stakeholder rather than a decision-making body.
During the reinstatement, it is envisaged that signage around the Cathedral will reflect the story, not only of the Cathedral reinstatement, but of the overall progress of Christchurch as it recovers and regenerates following the earthquakes.
Where do people worship while the Cathedral is closed?
Services are being held at the Transitional Cathedral at 234 Hereford Street in Latimer Square. It is open daily from 9.00am and closes at 5.00pm or at the conclusion of the evening service.
You can find out more at: www.cardboardcathedral.org.nz
Where can visitors to Christchurch donate?
Visitors to Christchurch who would like to make a donation to the Cathedral can do so at the Transitional Cathedral on Hereford Street. Or via the Transitional Cathedral website:
How can local people support the reinstatement project?
There will be a public fundraising campaign in the future, once there is a better idea of costs around the project. Members of the community will be advised when the fundraising campaign is launched.
How can I stay up to date with what’s happening?
Subscribe to our e-newsletter by scrolling to the bottom of the Contact us page.
Download these FAQs Here