A remote-operated digger has entered the Christ Church Cathedral to clear out debris inside.
The move is reportedly a world-first and is intended to keep workers safe outside while the digger clears debris, masonry and guano, a significant biohazard, inside the nave.
It is also focused on retrieving heritage fabric.
The work, beginning today, involves a digger being controlled by a driver in the operations centre outside the cathedral using cameras with live stream capabilities.
The cameras can function with the driver up to 1km away.
The remote-operated digger has been developed, and is being operated, by project partners Protranz Earthmoving Ltd and Aurecon.
Drivers have been rehearsing offsite over the past few months to get comfortable with the equipment and ensure they can operate it safely.
It is another milestone in the wider cathedral rebuild project.
In March this year, the roof of the cathedral was removed as part of the deconstruction phase of the rebuild.
Stabilisation work - the critical pathway efforts before actual rebuilding begins – on the 140-year-old Gothic-style church building began in May 2020.
After years of public rows and wrangling, the Anglican Synod voted in 2017 by a narrow majority to reinstate the building.
Christchurch City Council granted a critical resource consent which allowed for the repair and restoration of heritage fabric along with the replacement of the west porch, tower and vestries on the main building.
It also enabled the superstructure of the main cathedral building to be seismically strengthened.