8 Sep 2017

Fate of ChristChurch Cathedral being decided

7:20 pm on 8 September 2017

Members of the Christchurch Anglican diocese have for the first time spoken publicly about their wrecked cathedral.

The Christ Church Cathedral has been abandoned for almost six years.

The ChristChurch Cathedral Photo: 123rf.com

The 225-member Anglican Synod is underway, with the future of the ChristChurch Cathedral one of the main items on the agenda.

The cathedral had laid in ruins since the earthquakes, surrounded by fencing and held up by metal supports and shipping containers.

There had been six long years of legal threats from heritage groups, and million dollar promises from the government, and indecision from the Anglican Church.

Christchurch's Bishop, Victoria Matthews, has strongly stated her support for demolition in the past. The government, city council and heritage groups all back restoring it.

At Synod today people backed each of the three options - demolish and rebuild, reinstate, or gift the building to the government.

The option to reinstate came with a $25 million funding pledge from central government and a $10 million pledge from the Christchurch City Council (although this is subject to public consultation).

And Synod members had the opportunity today to voice their views.

Reverend Mark Chamberlain, from Fendalton, said the government pledge showed the community wanted the cathedral rebuilt.

"It's too good to turn down," he said.

However, Reverend Felicity O'Brien, from Linwood, said there was no certainty the government pledge would actually materialise.

"We don't know if those pledges we have received are actually going to come," she said.

Rev O'Brien also raised concern about who would foot the bill.

"I don't believe it's good stewardship to use the public's money on an expensive building," she said.

The third option, gifting the broken cathedral to the city also has support from many Synod members.

Lianne Dalziel and Nicky Wagner leave Synod today.

Lianne Dalziel and Nicky Wagner leave Synod today. Photo: RNZ / Logan Church

As part of the discussion, Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel and National Party Christchurch Rebuild spokesperson Nicky Wagner, spoke today.

Ms Dalziel said there was no right or wrong decision, but if the call was made to demolish, it could face significant legal challenges.

Ms Wagner reaffirmed her support for reinstatement.

She said she was "cautiously optimistic" that the Synod would choose to rebuild the cathedral.

The debate will continue this evening, with a decision on the cathedral's fate expected tomorrow.

How does the Synod come to a decision?

The Anglican Synod is a meeting of the Christchurch Diocese, which covers all of Canterbury, the Westland Coast and the Chatham Islands.

It consists of three houses: the House of Bishops, the House of Clergy and the House of Laity.

In a similar way to a council meeting or AGM, there were a variety of motions that the Synod debate and vote on.

This year, it includes the fate of the ChristChurch cathedral.

To come to a decision, a motion has to gain a majority in each of the three houses.

If there was no majority, the voting will continue.

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