Angry protesters determined to save Cranmer Courts in Christchurch disrupted a council meeting on Thursday and were thrown out, but won a stay of execution for the heritage building.
After heated exchanges between Christchurch mayor Bob Parker and people in the public gallery, councillors voted 5-4 in favour of sending a letter to the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority asking it to halt demolition for another month.
The 130-year-old gothic-style building was badly damaged in the February 2011 earthquake and the authority ordered that it be pulled down in April this year.
Demolition was halted in September after the 31 residents voted to sell the site to an Australian buyer who had committed to restoring the building. Due to regulations and insurance complications, the deal fell through and the bulldozers moved in on 4 October.
Councillors Sue Wells, Jamie Gough and Mr Parker were among those who voted against writing the letter, which was delivered to the authority on Thursday afternoon.
But a spokesperson for the authority says any change to the current work programme at Cranmer Courts would have to be initiated by the owners, not the authority.
Residents' spokesperson Lorraine North says there are two potential purchasers for the property.
A submission from advocates and residents of Cranmer Courts also urged a moratorium on plans to demolish other heritage buildings until the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority had an appropriate heritage recovery plan in place.