Very late in the day, the Christchurch City Council has called for a halt to the demolition of what remains of the Anglican cathedral.

Its fate was the subject of debate within the diocese for some months, which would have been an opportunity for the council to represent the city's interest.

It has decided to intervene now at the urging of a citizens' group, though dissenters included mayor Bob Parker and the cathedral's former dean who had done what he could to save it when his bishop seemed to place little value on its survival.

The condition of the stone appears to support the diocese's decision to "deconstruct" the walls to a height that will enable the safe retrieval of items that have survived the earthquakes.


At present stone is said to be still falling not only in the slightest aftershock but from the motion of heavy vehicles working in the ruins of Cathedral Square.

It is hard to imagine how the objectors would have the building restored without removing most of the cracked stonework.

It will be costly if not impossible for Christchurch to restore its stone heritage to the seismic standards it must now expect.

Its council might serve its citizens better by reminding them the city centre will look very different when it recovers from the earthquakes.

Its ordeal last year will become the defining event in its new heritage and it could build something splendid in place of the small cathedral to honour the city's new spirit.