4 Jul 2017

Govt offers $10m towards Chch Cathedral

2:06 pm on 4 July 2017

The government is offering $25 million in funding and loans to bring estimated available funds to reinstate Christ Church Cathedral to $90m.

Christchurch cathedral.

Christ Church Cathedral Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

The future of the badly damaged building has been up in the air for six years. The Anglican Church favours a new building while some heritage advocates want the original restored.

Minister Supporting Greater Christchurch Regeneration Nicky Wagner announced this morning the government's plan to support the reinstatement.

She said the government would pay $10m and offer an interest-free loan of $15m, the Christchurch City Council had offered another $10m and the Great Christchurch Buildings Trust had pledged $13.7m.

That would add to the church's insurance proceeds of $42m to bring funds to about $90m, which Ms Wagner said would be enough to complete the cathedral and its ancillary buildings.

It comes ahead of a vote by the cathedral's synod in September over whether the building should be reinstated or demolished to make way for a new cathedral.

Bishop Victoria Matthews has previously claimed restoration of the cathedral is unaffordable.

"I've presented the offer to Bishop Victoria Matthews and she's agreed to take it to the synod in September," the minister said.

Ms Mathews said she had several meetings with Nicky Wagner this year, but this offer was new.

"This is a generous offer...all the information will go to the pre-Synod meetings for consideration", she said.

Ms Wagner said the offer built on the Cathedral Working Group Recommendation Report, released last month, which recommended reinstatement at an estimated cost of $104m.

That report suggested the church's insurance payout could be supplemented by government and city council funding and the remaining half of the $104m cost could be gathered through a fundraising campaign.

The government and council offer to bring available funds to $90.7m:

  • Crown cash contribution: $10m
  • Crown-funded interest-free loan: $15m. Repayment of the loan to be suspended and forgiven if the loan conditions are fulfilled
  • Legislation to streamline project consenting and approval processes
  • Church insurance proceeds of $42m
  • Christchurch City Council grant of $10m, subject to public consultation
  • Great Christchurch Buildings Trust pledge of $13.7m
  • Independent fundraising trust to be tasked with further fund-raising
  • Joint venture to be set up between the Church Property Trust and the fundraising trust to govern and manage the project

A survey last month found 58 percent of Cantabrians wanted the cathedral reinstated, but when they were informed of the cost that support dropped to 43 percent.

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