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Preliminary cathedral reinstatement works underway as Christchurch greets new bishop

Posted on: February 8, 2019 3:18 PM
A small section of hand-painted stained glass, depicting a fleur-de-lis, has been found amongst the rubble of New Zealand’s Christchurch Cathedral, which was severely damaged in the June 2011 earthquake.
Photo Credit: Stuff / The Press (used with permission)

The new bishop of Christchurch in New Zealand, Dr Peter Carrell, will be consecrated and installed tomorrow (Saturday) as efforts to reconstruct the earthquake damaged cathedral are finally underway. Dr Carrell will be consecrated at 11 am NZDT (10 pm, Friday 8 February, GMT) at the Christchurch Boys High School Auditorium; ahead of an installation service in the Cathedral Square, outside the cathedral, at 3 pm NZDT (2 am GMT). The cathedral was all-but destroyed in the June 2011 earthquake. Years of dispute and legal wrangling over its future came to an end in September 2017 when the diocese agreed to rebuild the cathedral, with funding support from national and local government.

“Christchurch began with a special relationship to Anglicanism, with our founding forebears bringing their faith-based approach to life with them when building the city”, the Dean of Christchurch, Lawrence Kimberley, said. “This unique event will be a joyful combination of different aspects of Anglicanism. Its inclusiveness demonstrates love for friends and neighbours including welcoming those who are hard to love. It extends to work colleagues, visitors from far and near, and our tūrangawaewae, the places we are connected to and belong.”

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The Bishop-elect of Christchurch, the Ven Dr Peter Carrell, with his wife Teresa.
Photo: Mandy Caldwell Photography

Bishop-elect Peter Carrell described his new role as “a privilege and an honour”, adding: “I am grateful for all the support, prayer and aroha I have been receiving and that no doubt will continue. I am excited and yearn for the Diocese to move forward and thrive.”

Work on the cathedral’s re-instatement is gathering place. Last month, giant cranes removed the steel frame which has supported the west end of the cathedral and its large rose window for most of this decade. Stonemasons have removed what was left of the window and have begun gathering and recoding historic glass and carvings from the rubble. Workers have recovered large pieces of the rose window about the size of car engines, along with smaller pieces the size of a can of beans, the Stuff news website reports.

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Christ Church Cathedral in May 2011 after a steel frame had been erected to protect the still intact rose window. The frame was removed last month as efforts begin to prepare the building for reinstatement.
Photo: Stuff / The Press (used with permission)

The work taking place now will enable further explorations to take place so that an effective plan for its reinstatement can be drawn up. The restoration, once it gets underway, is expected to last 10 years. Government sources estimate the cost at $105 million NZD (approximately £54.7 million GBP), although the exact cost is not yet known.

It will be partly funded by the $42 million insurance payout received by the diocese’s property trustees, a $10m Christchurch City Council grant, a $10m Crown cash contribution, and a $15m Government loan that will not have to be paid back if certain conditions are met.

The cathedral congregation have been meeting in a transitional “cardboard” cathedral a short distance from the historic site.