NZ diocese to close structurally unsound cathedral

 

NZ diocese to close structurally unsound cathedral

Author: 

George Conger

The Church of New Zealand’s Diocese of Taranaki will close the country’s oldest stone church on 5 Oct 2015 after an engineering survey that found the Cathedral Church of St Mary in New Plymouth would not withstand an earthquake. Last week the Taranaki Anglican Trust Board voted to suspend weekly services at the church built in 1846 and close the building to all services by January. A survey found the church meets only 15 per cent of the current New Building Standard -- a building is considered prone to damage from earthquakes if it falls below 34 per cent of standard. Archbishop Philip Richardson, the Bishop of Taranaki , said the news was not unexpected, but the decision to mothball the building was sad. "We love this building, it has a long, rich history. … Many people are distressed by this - it's such a traumatic moment," he said. The costs to bring the historic cathedral up to code and the time it would take before services would resume was not yet known, he said, as the engineers had not submitted their final report. The Very Rev. Jamie Allen, the cathedral’s dean told the Anglican Taonga the congregation would carry on. “I am sure Taranaki people will be able to meet the challenge with an interim worship space. We are also determined that the support the cathedral is privileged to offer to our community – for example, counselling and the community cafe, will continue unaffected. We’ve all experienced some deep sadness as well as anger and denial and we are working together and to find a sense of resurrection in this. This taonga was gifted to us; we didn’t build it. However, it is our responsibility to do everything we can to make this building stronger for generations to come."

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