01 Mar 2012
Today at 2pm Bishop Victoria announced the recommendation that was passed by Standing Committee and Church Property Trustees last night. Bishop Victoria said, "The Christchurch Cathedral will be carefully deconstructed down to a level of approximately two to three metres in order to meet safety requirements and allow the safe retrieval of taonga and heritage items.
"The decision has happened now to meet the requirements of a letter from CERA issued under section 38 of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act 2011. Bishop Victoria said, "After the 23 December quakes, CERA said the plans for making safe the cathedral were no longer adequate." She said there is now a very real expectation of ongoing seismic activity.
The recommendation was put together by the Cathedral Project Team, which includes representatives from the Cathedral Chapter, Church Property Trustees, Standing Committee and Cathedral Staff as well as consulting experts in specialist areas such as engineering, project management and heritage. The members of the public involved in these groups are unpaid and voluntary. They also have gone through the last eighteen months of living in Christchurch and these roles are over and above their normal working lives.
It is planned that the work will allow for further retrieval of heritage and taonga items including the stained glass windows and Bishop Harper's effigy. Some items have already been able to be retrieved like the tukutuku panels, a number flags that used to hang in the cathedral including a flag from the Charlotte Jane and the Girls' and Boy's Brigade flags. Cathedral choir music and chalices used during communion have also been retrieved. The careful deconstruction will also mean saving much of the stones and masonry.
Bishop Victoria said "we acknowledge the high level of community interest and sense of ownership as the Cathedral was both an iconic building and a place of regular worship by many. However, this is now a very dangerous building that needs to be made safe." The ongoing aftershocks and constant damage now even by the smaller aftershocks make saving the cathedral impossible. Marcus Read, project manager for RCP, was quoted last week in The Press as saying "She's rocking herself to pieces."
Bishop Victoria said, "The Anglican Diocese is face a hard reality - the Cathedral is the revered "mother church" but is not the only church in the Dioceses to have sustained damage, in some cases irreparable or too costly to repair."
You can read further answers about this decision here
Further pictures of the damage to the cathedral can be seen here
A video by CERA about damage to the cathedral on Dec 23 can be seen on YouTube
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