Cathedral's damage deemed too great to be healed

By Jarrod Booker

Christchurch Cathedral.
Photo / Mark Mitchell
Christchurch Cathedral. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Earthquake-damaged Christchurch Cathedral will have to come down, but there is hope some parts of the historic building can be preserved.

The city landmark has suffered ongoing damage in the devastating quakes over the past 18 months and the outlook for it has become increasingly bleak.

Bishop Victoria Matthews of the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch is due to make an "important announcement" about the cathedral at 2pm today.

It is understood the extent of the damage means the building will have to be pulled down, but there are options to be considered for some parts of it to be retained for historical purposes.

Last October, it was announced a partial demolition would be carried out to allow for key artefacts and heritage items such as the cathedral organ to be retrieved. However, further large quakes on December 23 caused more serious structural damage and made access too dangerous.

The former cathedral dean, Peter Beck, recently told the Herald that the building's future "is not looking good".

The cathedral project manager, Marcus Read, told Campbell Live that the cathedral was "rocking herself to pieces".

However a structural engineer, who has already worked on make-safe plans for the building, said there is no reason why the 131-year-old building can not be saved.

Michael King told Newstalk ZB there are no issues he is aware of that would raise doubts over its future.

"I believe a building such as that needs to be saved, there's no price you can put on it," he said.

"It's like trying to say that you're going to get rid of the Eiffel Tower because it has a problem, you just can't."

Mr King said the building should be repaired, with requirements to bring it above code level.

Last month, Bishop Matthews said: "The cathedral is now a very dangerous building and internal access is impossible.

"We are undertaking new engineering reassessments ... to determine what are the realistic options for the building's future.

"When we have a peer-reviewed assessment of the building, we will publicly share that assessment."

Built in the second half of the 19th century, the cathedral was also damaged by earthquakes in 1881, 1888 and 1901.

- NZ Herald

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