An engineering and seismic report into the earthquake safety of St Augustine's Church in Napier has resulted in the Waiapu Diocese having no choice but to close its doors - although future events and services will continue in the smaller, adjoining hall.

Bishop's Warden Denise Wheeler said as a vestry they had been "very pro-active" in seeking a safety report in the wake of St Mary's Church in Waipukurau having to be closed due to its quake-risk rating this year.

As St Augustine's had been built in the 1960s the vestry figured "we would be okay".

But after Opus Consultants carried out an initial report the news was far from good with the main church building only coming in at 5 per cent.


The spire, interior columns and doubts over bracing in the roof led to the poor result - which left the diocese with no option but to close it to ensure the safety of parishioners and the public.

The interim report recommends further investigations be carried out to determine the exact nature of any structural upgrade the church would need to bring it up to an acceptable level.

The church's standing committee made the decision to close the doors at a parish meeting last Sunday.

"We have to be responsible - we can't say just have trust and just have faith - we can't put people in a position where there is a safety issue."

Mrs Wheeler said the news had stunned and upset many parishioners but she took a "business as usual" stance given the hall received a 45 per cent rating and was still able to be used.

The cost of replacing the church would be "out of the question" she said.

"The cost would be phenomenal."

While no firm decisions had been made, she said it would be more practical to carry out remedial work on the hall, which would be nowhere near as extensive: "It would be far better to spend money on that."

The hall could take up to 100 people and would be used for future Sunday services including a Christmas Pageant at 9.30am this Sunday which was originally going to be staged in the church. "So it is still on and all are welcome."

The vestry has embarked on a process which would entail first obtaining an interim report from Opus which would outline options from structural improvements and costings.

The aim was to have the full facts and figures ready for discussion at a parish meeting next April.

That time would coincide with expected changes to the Building Act which would provide a clearer benchmark to work to.

"There has been a bit of anguish but we will continue," Mrs Wheeler said.