It is not your cathedral

March 6th, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A City Councillor has called for a televised debate on whether the cathedral should be pulled down.

Councillor Aaron Keown, representing the Shirley-Papanui ward, has argued the Anglican Church is not being transparent about the reasons for not demolishing the cathedral.

“You’ve got a building in the centre of Christchurch that has more value to the city and the people of Christchurch than it does to the church.

Tough. It belongs to the Anglican Church. The public don’t get a vote on this.

Mr Keown said the costs and upkeep of the cathedral should be transferred to the city.

“It would still be the Anglican Cathedral, I would like to see them semi hand over the ownership. Kind of like how there have partnerships with iwi, we’ve got to do the same with the church. The church just don’t have the money they once had.”

You want to spend ratepayers money on buying a cathedral??? No. And the Church has an insurance policy.

He said he will bring up the possibility of council leading legal action against the church at the next meeting.

What part of private property rights is hard to understand? Also what part of unsafe is hard to fathom.

I’m not saying the Anglican Church has made the right decision. I’m saying it is their decision. If you don’t like it, then join the Church and roll the bishop or something – if that is possible.

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34 Responses to “It is not your cathedral”

  1. alex Masterley (1,517 comments) says:

    No wonder Christchurch city councillors are held in such low esteem.

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  2. peterwn (3,277 comments) says:

    If Aaron wants the existing cathedral restored, he should start a fundraising campaign for the $100M or so required. But all he does is bleat.

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  3. James Butler (74 comments) says:

    It’s not just about property rights, either – the first priority for the Anglican Church needs to be providing a venue for the diocese, a seat for the Bishop and a place of worship for the parish. Disclaimer – I’m neither a Cantabrian nor a Christian, and I don’t claim to know whether demolition is the best thing to do, but I do know that having a functional church needs to trump keeping a pretty building. Hell, a new Cathedral would be a fantastic chance for some really excellent new architecture, although I have no confidence that any new design would be excellent…

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  4. m@tt (629 comments) says:

    “Tough. It belongs to the Anglican Church. The public don’t get a vote on this.”

    The cathedral has enjoyed a status far above other churches in the region and arguably far above any other in the country, because of the status that the public gave it.

    The church may have owned the bricks and mortar the people owned the “Christchurch Cathedral”.

    Private property rights won’t reflect this reality and in my opinion means they are not the way to frame this problem.

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  5. labours a joke (442 comments) says:

    Aaron..we know you supported Marryatts pay increase. We know you are a showpony. We know you are incompetent in your role as a city councillor. This cathedral hoo-haa is all smokescreen. You’re toast at next years election.

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  6. Lance (2,662 comments) says:

    @Mott
    You pay for it then.

    The Christian Church has a long history of contemporary architecture for each new church / rebuild.
    They appear more progressive than you.

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  7. George Patton (349 comments) says:

    Someone’s running for Mayor.

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  8. Brian Harmer (687 comments) says:

    M@tt, sorry, but that’s a load of emotive bollocks. Your second sentence says “it ha status because of the status we gave it” What? How does that alter the inexorable logic off the fact tha it is private property?

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  9. davidp (3,581 comments) says:

    Compare this with the Westpac Farms. For some reason half the country has an opinion about who Westpac should and should not be allowed to sell them to. I predict that in the future all property transactions will be subject to public opinion poll, that Michael Faye will be allowed to take you to court if he wants to buy your home cheaper than you want to sell it, and that Aaron Keown will threaten to chain himself to your home if he doesn’t like your renovation plans.

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  10. Yvette (2,824 comments) says:

    If Aaron Keown gets hit by a portion of lose cathedral masonry will it be an Act of God, or will he want to sue the Anglican Church who happen to own the building?

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  11. iMP (2,387 comments) says:

    Trying to be charitable, but Keown is an ex-male model and wannabe movie actor. It’s all about ego and profile. He stood as mayor in his 20s while completely unknown. He got elected by tenacity and joke-value. He means well, but jumps before he thinks. He’s known locally as a loveable clown.

    There is no way the cathedral is any state to be sured up and would be incredibly dangerous for workmen. The bishop is simply not prepared to take that risk. 3 men killed in Durham St Church between quakes.

    And even if they could, who wants to worship in a fixed-up cathedral with tonnes of stone above their heads?

    One proposal will be to rebuild the original cathedral which was designed in wood. The stone cathedral was a late variation to the original plan.

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  12. pq (728 comments) says:

    Aaron Keowyn is stupid. He will lose his seat next election. We are committed to that.

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  13. iMP (2,387 comments) says:

    So will most current councillors. It’ll be a whole clean slate. Tyhe pitch forks and tomatoes are out…

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  14. iMP (2,387 comments) says:

    unless Nick Smith strikes first.

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  15. insider (1,028 comments) says:

    iMp

    Those three were killed in the feb quake not between.

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  16. m@tt (629 comments) says:

    @Brian.
    There are churches of higher ‘material’ value than the cathedral that are not worth what the Christchurch Cathedral was, or arguably is. The reason it had a value that outweighs it’s real cost is it’s status as an icon. It enjoys that status because the ‘people’ choose to use it as a symbol of their city . Private Property Rights don’t reflect this and that’s why I said it’s not the right way to frame the problem

    Time will tell whether the final decision is based solely on property rights or if people’s desire is bought in to it. I tend to think property rights will take a back seat, at least in appearances.

    When people are involved emotions are involved. I’m sorry if you find that icky.

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  17. peterwn (3,277 comments) says:

    M@tt – OK then, you and Aaron start fundraising – try for $20M in the first year and repeat for the next four years. then the Cathedral can be re-built in situ.

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  18. iMP (2,387 comments) says:

    insider (807) Says: …Those three were killed in the feb quake not between….

    Well we’ve had 10,000, so take your pick. The point is, they went in to an unstable church BETWEEN the 2 big earthquakes, and 22/2 toppled the church on top of them. So, Bishop Victoria is being wise.

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  19. RRM (9,933 comments) says:

    Yes it is the Anglican Church’s building, and it’s not for the council or the public to tell them what to do with their building.

    Given that ChristChurch Cathedral was the most iconic building in NZ, (and like it or not WAS intimately connected tothe city’s identity) some private philanthropists and/or the Chch council might feel they want to offer to help the Anglican Church in doing – something – with the site.

    But you can’t just have a referendum or a tv poll to let Joe Pub decide what you’re going to tell the Anglican Church to do with their own building… that’s almost as bad as the way our Heritage orders work! :-P

    Michael Hill might want to buy it to rebuild it as a venue for his international violin competition? ;-)

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  20. wreck1080 (3,924 comments) says:

    David, in case you noticed we lost quite a few property rights some time ago.

    Councils have taken over a lot of the rights you have to your property .

    One guy was thrown in jail cos he chopped down a tree on his property. Councils routinely slap protection orders on buildings, and plants.

    I wanted to plant some trees (large ones) on my section, phoned the council to ask if they would slap protection orders on them in future, and they said it was possible. Soooo, no trees were planted.

    Don’t talk to me about property rights.

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  21. RRM (9,933 comments) says:

    What the Council COULD have a referendum about, is the following:

    (1) Should Christchurch City Council undertake to raise the sum of approximately $100,000,000 and with this money purchase and attempt to rebuild and seismically upgrade ChristChurch Cathedral? (YES/NO)

    If you answered YES to question (1), go on to question (3)
    If you answered NO to question (1), go on to question (2)

    (2) Should Christchurch City Council undertake to raise the sum of approximately (something less than $100,000,000) and offer this money to the Anglican Diocese of New Zealand as a charitable donation, conditional upon their restoring and seismically upgrading ChristChurch Cathedral? (YES/NO)

    (3) Upon completion of the building work, should the Cathedral:
    (A) then be maintained as Council property, with an arrangement for the Anglican Diocese of NZ to lease the cathedral for their ongoing activities?
    (B) be put up for sale at reasonable rates, either to the Anglican Diocese or else to a third party property owner who will lease the cathedral to the Diocese in a similar arrangement as in (A)
    (Select A or B)

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  22. kiwi in america (2,454 comments) says:

    I’m not up with the politics of the Anglican Church or their finances that led to this decision but I can appreciate the angry sentiment behind Keown’s outburst despite him proposing to ride roughshod over the church’s right to decide on what it wants to do with its own private property.

    I wonder to what extent all options for restoration were fully explored. Fundraising to cover the estimated $70-100m rebuild cost could’ve come from multiple sources: insurance, world wide Anglican appeals, wealthy expats (some who had already committed $5m+), fundraising such as the highly successful appeals organized here in the US by Ambassador Mike Moore, some central Government funds via say the Historic Places Trust and maybe a Telethon to top it all off.

    I get the safety issue. On Christmas Day my 9 year old nephew and I cycled around the CBD cordon and met a young soldier on duty at the Manchester St checkpoint. He told us of the additional damage the Cathedral had sustained on Dec 23 and we saw for ourselves the additional damage to the Provincial Council Chambers due to their proximity to the eastern cordon fence. But concurrent to the Bishop announcing the need to demolish the Cathedral could’ve been the announcement that all avenues were being persued to rebuild the Cathedral to something similar to what was there before – maybe not identical but in substance and image very similar.

    Whilst the Cathedral was always a house of worship for Anglicans and their heirarchy undoubtedly has had to take into consideration the effect of the earthquakes on all its churches across the affected region, there is something unique and transcedent about Christchurch Cathedral. The Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament on Barbados St is a far more compelling and beautiful architectural gem than the the C of E equivalent in the Square but no other building so strikingly symbolises the heart and soul of Christchurch. In the week before Dec 23 CERA allowed Chch residents to walk into the Square along a prearranged pathway from the revamped container mall in Cashel St and the re-opened Ballantynes down Colombo St. Thousands made the walk – to stand in front of the shattered icon of our city was supremely sad. The hushed reverent tones of the gathered people spoke volumes of the esteem even love that the people of Christchurch hold for this building. To rebuild it in like form would’ve been a powerful and potent symbol of regeneration and offered a link to the past in the midst of the bustling new city that will rise from the ashes.

    I believe the Anglican Church can and should try harder. They ought not surrender control of their sacred space but recognize that they can partner with a range of interested parties and over the ensuing years, work tirelessly to facilitate the raising the necessary funds to accomplish what would be a huge symblic act of healing – something that the long suffering residents of Christchurch are in sore need of!

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  23. kiwi in america (2,454 comments) says:

    I meant the western cordon fence

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  24. Inky_the_Red (760 comments) says:

    The former ACT parliamentary candidate and current city councillor Keown thinks a lot of himself. He did say that the demolition of the cathedral would be over his dead body. That is almost enough for me to support the demolition.

    The bishop is not making friends in Christchurch and I doubt if she represents the owners of the cathedral (The Anglican in the Parish) Already the Dean has quit and since been elected onto the CCC.

    I am sure that fundraising could repair the cathedral and keep some history for the city I was born in and have lived in since 1984

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  25. peterwn (3,277 comments) says:

    wreck1080 – Anglican Church consulted with CERA and presumably Council. Although an owner can be required to retain a heritage building, all bets are off when a building is very seriously damaged. Even assuming the council / NZ Historic Places Trust could legally force the Anglican Church to reinstate the cathedral, the burden placed on the owner would be one or two orders of magnitude greater than the average heritage order. In practical terms it would imply confication of the land by the government (central or local) then possibly attempting to bankrupt the Anglican Church in Canterbury to provide reinstatement money. The Council would need to provide the rest -> rates skyrocket -> property owners pocket the insurance money and invest in Auckland or overseas -> Christchurch declines.

    The issue for Christchurch is how to attract as much wealth and enterprise back into the area surrounded by the four Avenues. Using public money to reinstate the Cathedral (even assuming the land was grabbed from the Anglican Church) would be well down on the list of priorities. Christchurch needs to become prosperous again before any serious work on the Cathedral can even be contemplated. It may be a 100 year plan. There is just not the 10’s of millions dollars to secure the surviving walls, etc.

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  26. barry (1,317 comments) says:

    Of course theyve done the right thing – the building is a risk to life and limb – and there is no way the church could justify spending millions – I have heard 20mill – to re build – when it will fall again in the next big shake.

    And anyway the centre of the city is buggered – it wont come back and it would be good for the city to start anew.

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  27. Steve (4,565 comments) says:

    Aaron Keown is fundraising,

    he wants the RATEPAYER and TAXPAYER to do a deal with the Church Insurers, to save the broken boulder building.

    Get the churchies to provide the funds Aaron and leave us TAXPAYERS alone, we have been bled enough

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  28. Mobile Michael (452 comments) says:

    I hate this save the building stuff. It’s like denying history. The cathedral was irrepairably damaged by earthquakes in 2011. If it is to remain as a ruin then I have no problem – it’s a new beginning in the history of Christchurch. The same goes for the other heritage buildings – the Catolic Badilica, the old uni, and the provincial chambers.

    Napier wasn’t rebuilt as it was, now it’s a world class snapshot of history.

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  29. Clint Heine (1,571 comments) says:

    What nonsense. A building designed for believers of one of the wealthiest cults on the planet should not be paid for by the rate payers of Chch or any taxpayers of NZ.

    RRM it isn’t the most “iconic” building in NZ either. We have several buildings that people would call iconic, but even if it was super pretty and nice – why should we be compelled to dip into our pockets so this cult can build another pretty building?

    Chch should be rebuilt so it can sustain another big shake – not keep making the same mistakes over and over again.

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  30. Lance (2,662 comments) says:

    @Clint
    The Anglican Church has not asked for funds from rate payers. It wishes to mind its own business so to speak.
    Your nasty prejudices and factual inaccuracies tell enough of your completely closed mind on all matters spiritual, secular and economic.

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  31. m@tt (629 comments) says:

    I’ll say it again. ‘Private Property Rights’ will not decide the outcome.
    Bishop not ready for ‘backlash’

    It very much is our cathedral.

    “But she is also seen by the community as the guardian of a building which belongs to all of us. A lot of public money has been invested in the building, but more than that a huge amount of emotion has been invested in this place. I don’t think the process has been handled as well as it could be.”

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  32. KevinH (1,229 comments) says:

    I wouldn’t go so far as to describe the cathedral as the most iconic building in New Zealand RRM,for instance the Beehive and Parliament Buildings could fall into that category. However your recommendations on the referendum were spot on and will give the pro rebuild lobby food for thought.

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  33. E. Campbell (91 comments) says:

    Cr Keown is, frankly, a madman!

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  34. Lee01 (2,171 comments) says:

    “The bishop is not making friends in Christchurch”

    Thats not really true. Bishop Victoria has made a great many loyal friends and fans who like her no-nonsense, tell it like it is style. A refreshing change from previous Bishops who were terrified of making decisions lest they offend someone.

    Bishop Victoria grew up in the military ( as the daughter of a military career man), and it shows, in a positive way. She holds firm opinions, and is theologically centrist/conservative, another welcome change from previous Bishops who were only interested in being politically correct. She is prepared to make hard decisions for the long term good of the diocese. She has a responsibility to focus of the missional needs of the Church, and the lives of those who have landed on hard times because of the earthquake, not to waste vast sums of money on restoring a destroyed building, let alone risking more lives in a dubious rebuild effort.

    The Cathedral was/is an Anglican Church. It does not belong to the “people” of Christchurch, and while I understand their emotional attachment to it, it is time to move on.

    Peter Beck is no loss to the Church. He was a Labour party hack who was famous for almost never mentioning God or Christian doctrine in his sermons, but instead using the pulpit to promote the latest Labour party talking points. Good riddance to him.

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