4 Mar 2014

Another move to save cathedral

7:20 pm on 4 March 2014

An English philanthropist fighting to save the ChristChurch Cathedral is calling for the community to lead a restoration project.

The future of the Cathedral, badly damaged in the 2011 February earthquake, and how it should be rebuilt is at the centre of a legal battle between the Anglican Church and a group opposing its demolition.

The front of ChristChurch Cathedral.

The front of ChristChurch Cathedral. Photo: RNZ

The Anglican Diocese of Christchurch wants to demolish the building. Bishop Victoria Matthews has previously said that she is committed to having a church in the central city within 10 years.

On Tuesday morning, businessman Hamish Ogston announced in Christchurch that, along with a $4 million donation towards the building's restoration, he would fund a survey to ask what the people of Canterbury want.

"There will be an independent organisation, a foundation, which will fundraise and restore it - so there's no risk to the Church financially. And secondly, that will be dependant on the results of this survey which I hope we'll get cracking with next week."

Mr Ogston said he would like to see an independent trust made up of members in the community take over the restoration with co-operation from the Anglican Church.

But a spokesperson for the Church said they are are astounded they were not notified of the announcement, which Mr Ogston made at the Christchurch City Council's offices.

Reverend Jayson Rhodes said the cathedral is a sacred place - not a project where people can walk along and say this is what should happen.

He said the Church has already listened to the public's view through consultation and stands by the decision to deconstruct the cathedral and build a contemporary replacement.

"I think it's time when some self-appointed custodians of the Cathedral actually realise that Chirstchurch no longer looks to them to run the city. Property trustees are elected. It's their decision about the Cathedral - and that's been announced, that's been made."

Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel on Tuesday welcomed the move to consult the public over the future of the building.

Ms Dalziel said the idea of the survey has merit, but does not see the council having any financial involvement.

Early last year, the former council voted for a halt on the demolition of the cathedral.