Cathedrals' fate uncertain after latest tremors

7:56 pm on 16 June 2011

The future of Christchurch's two landmark cathedrals is more uncertain after Monday's big aftershocks.

Powerful earthquakes again rocked the city on Monday, the largest of which was of 6.3 magnitude.


The Anglican Christchurch Cathedral and the Catholic Cathedral of Blessed Sacrament were hit hard by the earthquake in February and were further damaged on Monday.

Bishop of Christchurch Victoria Matthews says Christchurch Cathedral has sustained significant new damage, with the famous rose window and most of the western wall lost.

She says it is now more likely that the cathedral won't be restored to its original state, but built in a new modern form. However she says the cathedral will be at the heart of the city, wherever that is.

The copper dome of the Cathedral of Blessed Sacrament has become more unstable because of damage to its supporting arches.

The dome was to be removed in the next two weeks, but that work's been put on hold and the building's future is being reassessed.

Cathedral management board chairman Lance Ryan says the new damage to the basilica appears severe.

"We're still in limbo," Mr Ryan said. "Our hope really is to try and save the building, and every effort is being made to try and save the building, because of its historic nature."

Mr Ryan says it could take up to a month before a decision is made on whether the building will have to be demolished and, whatever the decision, money is going to be an issue.