Plan to publicly fund damaged cathedral meets opposition
Almost seven years ago ‘acts of God’ in the form of earthquakes damaged buildings – including a deconsecrated Anglican cathedral – in Christchurch, New Zealand.
But a plan to use get residents to contribute cash rebuild the cathedral has not gone down well with many local residents, according to this report.
In September, the Anglican Synod voted to rebuild the ChristChurch Cathedral, which had been damaged on no fewer than six occasions by earthquakes between 1881 (coincidentally when the Freethinker was first published) and 2011. The plan came with various funding pledges, including a $10-million (£5.7-m) grant from the Christchurch City Council.
But after public consultation, the council found the majority of residents did not believe ratepayers should foot part of the bill. A total of 1,063 people lodged objections to the grant.
Spreydon resident, Janet Begg, was among them, and she said the Christchurch City Council should not waste a cent of ratepayers’ money on it.
It’s not one of the core functions of the Christchurch City Council … we have far more important things to be doing. We are supposed to be a secular country and our rates should not be used to prop up the Anglicans.
The campaign to restore the cathedral, at a cost of $104-m (£53.77-m), already came with significant financial support, including a separate $25-m (£12.93) pledge from the government.
The Greater Christchurch Building Trust pledged another $13.5-m (£7-m), and believed it could raise more money.
The Anglican Church’s insurance payout of $42-m (£21.7-m), would also be used.
In October, the Christchurch City Council voted that its $10-m contribution, if passed, would be raised through targeted rates.
Celia Hogan, who was a direct descendant of the city’s first Anglican bishop, Henry Harper, did not think a small rates increase was too much to ask for.
I think it’s very affordable and very beneficial for our city … it only equates to about 23 cents per week … per ratepayer.
The council grant also had the backing of the New Zealand Stone Mason’s Association, and its spokesperson, Paul Gautron, said it would give some stone masons a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
The chance to train apprentices, to give them the experience of working on a project like that, it’s not something that happens on a regular basis [anywhere in the world]. It would be an honour for any stone mason to work on that building.
A Hearings Panel, made up of Christchurch’s councillors and the Mayor, Lianne Dalziel, will discuss the submissions at a meeting on Thursday.
Christchurch Anglicans are currently worshipping in a cathedral made of cardboard.
It has been decribed as “kitsch” by the Wizard of New Zealand, London-born Ian Brackenbury Channell, 85, above. He strongly campaigned against the plan to demolish the cathedral and build a new one on the site.