THE High Court in New Zealand has halted the demolition of
Christchurch Cathedral, which was damaged after an earthquake in
February last year. Justice Lester Chisholm said that the
demolition should stop until a judicial review of the decision to
deconstruct the cathedral had taken place.
The Great Christchurch Build-ings Trust (GCBT) went to the High
Court last month, arguing that, under a 2003 Act, the diocese was
obliged to repair and maintain the cathedral. Members of the trust
have presented their own reports from engineers, which suggest that
the cathedral could be rebuilt safely.
The Church Property Trust (CPT), which owns the cathedral,
decided in March to bring the building down to a level of two to
three metres, in accordance with a notice from the earthquake
recovery authority. A temporary cardboard cathedral is already
under construction (News, 20 July), and an architect has been
appointed to draw up plans for a permanent replacement
In a written judgment, Justice Chisholm said that the cathedral
does not have to be restored, legally, to its original form.
"Unless the terms of the cathedral trust are varied, either the
structure that remains will have to be repaired, or it will have to
be replaced by another cathedral. While there must be a cathedral
on the site, it does not necessarily have to replicate the
cathedral as it stood before the earthquakes occurred."
But he agreed to the review. His ruling requires the CPT
formally to commit to rebuilding the cathedral in the same
The Bishop of Christchurch, the Rt Revd Victoria Matthews, said
that the Church must consider all aspects of the decision, but that
it was committed to building a new cathedral on the site.
A spokeswoman for the CPT said on Tuesday that it had requested
its engineers, and other professionals, to review the information
presented by the GCBT to the court.