Dear Friends in Christ,

Christ Church Cathedral is an icon of Christchurch city and a valued building at the heart of the city, famous in our nation and visited by millions through its long history. Its Reinstatement is part of putting Christchurch back together following the earthquakes.

As a Diocese we have been guardians of this majestic building, not only for our own sakes as worshippers of God, but also for the sake of all who value the Cathedral and visit it, whether people of faith or no faith. I am committed to its Reinstatement, not only so we have a permanent Cathedral to praise God in again, but also so that our Cathedral can resume serving the people of our land and of the world.

This weekend the Christ Church Cathedral Reinstatement Limited (CCRL) – the company responsible for reinstating the Cathedral and for raising funds for the Cathedral – has made a major announcement about revised costs and timeline for the Reinstatement of our Cathedral.

Our media release is Project Update – Media Release 6 April 2024 ( and The Press report this morning is Christ Church Cathedral to be mothballed unless a $30m lifeline is found | The Press. I commend The Press for the accuracy and fairness of their story.

The revision of the work required to complete the reinstatement to 100% of New Building Standard comes from work done since our Synod last met in September 2023. That work has focused on investigating the depth of interior foundations and the required ground investigations to validate assumptions made in the consented design. We have discovered that the foundation depths are not as deep as we had assumed from the information available from old drawings from 1881, leading to alternative solutions for the foundation installation.

Other investigations such as dewatering tests highlighted further challenges associated with building deep foundations under the tower and the lowered courtyard. Finally, obtaining indicative estimates for masonry work packages has been carried out with significantly more work required than provided for initially.

Summarising all the new information about engineering construction and programming challenges, reinstating the cathedral to achieve seismic performance of 100% of New Building Standard is going to take much longer than we planned, and the totality of the work required will be much more expensive than was previously communicated to our Synod.

Our revised Project Costs of construction estimate is $248 million, and the new completion date is 2031. This estimate of costs and of timeline assumes the lowered courtyard and tower basement are removed from the current design plan and that the Visitor Centre is simplified.

This news is difficult to digest. It has been very confronting to me personally as I have engaged in the review exercise through the past six months.

I am committed to finding a way forward to raise the necessary funds to complete the reinstatement of the Cathedral. I am thankful for every parishioner who has been giving through the Anglican Campaign. Funds contributed through this Campaign contribute to the philanthropic giving our Project appreciates so much.

I will be working with Synod, CPT and Standing Committee through the next three months to secure an additional contribution into the Project from the Diocese of Christchurch.

Readers will be aware that we have contributed around $45m from our insurance funds: $33m towards the costs of construction and $12m into the Cathedral Maintenance and Insurance Fund (as required by Synod’s 2017 decision).

Including consideration of the eventual sale of the Transitional Cathedral site, we believe there is $16m from Diocesan held assets that can reasonably be repurposed to fund the Cathedral’s construction. (This $16m is additional to the St. Luke’s sale funds of $3.8m which have already been transferred to the Project.)

Nevertheless, when all expended funds, current funds, and proposed funds from further philanthropic giving and additional Diocesan contribution are added up (to $134m), we are left with a projected shortfall of $114m.

The CCRL board, of which I am a director, will be in conversation with the NZ government and the Christchurch City Council about how a funding shortfall of $114 million can be met.

There is an alternative to securing new funding. The current Project may have to be wound up and the Cathedral building mothballed for an unknown period of time. Unpalatable though this outcome is, this happened previously in the Cathedral’s history. Building work begun in 1864 ceased in 1865. It began again in 1873 and was completed to a sufficient point to be opened in 1881.

I wish with all my heart that I had better news to share with you about the Cathedral.

Your prayers for the whole Project Team, for the Dean and Cathedral Chapter and for the Church Property Trustees and Standing Committee at this time would be appreciated.


Bishop Peter