Cathedral Conversations | Media Releases
We all remember ChristChurch Cathedral as a place that people came to worship at from across the city and across the world; it was a place for the hosting of civic occasions and a space that those passing by could come into and enjoy a time of quiet reflection. We are all waiting for this to become a reality again.
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MEDIA STATEMENT–The Right Reverend Victoria Matthews, Bishop of Christchurch
15 February 2018

Early this morning an announcement was made about progress on the reinstatement of ChristChurch Cathedral.  The Prime Minister, Jacinda Adern, and the Hon Dr Megan Woods, Minister for Greater Christchurch Regeneration, spoke from the Square and outlined steps taken to date.

Unfortunately I was unable to attend, however I was pleased that the Diocese was present in support, represented by Church Property Trustees, the Dean and staff.

Some of the key messages from this morning’s address include:

• The Government is reiterating its commitment to the reinstatement of the Cathedral and is preparing to release its promised $10m.

• The Government is reiterating its commitment to the reinstatement of the Cathedral and is preparing to release its promised $10m.

• Legislation to support the Cathedral project delivery passed through Parliament in Dec 2017 and has been given Royal Assent.

• The Reinstatement Trust (fundraising trust) is fully established as a registered charity and is ready to receive donations. The core work of the Reinstatement Trust is to produce and implement a fundraising strategy for the project.

• A cheque from Philip Burdon on behalf of the Great Christchurch Buildings Trust (GCBT) was handed to Peter Guthrey, Chair of the fundraising trust. This represents the first public donation to the trust.

• The Reinstatement Trust is entering into negotiations with Church Property Trustees on the legal framework for the joint venture to deliver the project.

• Actual work on the site will fall to the joint venture. This will need to be approached very carefully due to the obvious health and safety requirements.

On behalf of the Diocese of Christchurch, Cathedral Chapter and Church Property Trustees I would like to express gratitude for the commitment and resolve of the Government, especially Megan Woods, in progressing the necessary steps to having the careful and safe reinstatement of Christchurch Cathedral begin.

Contact:Jo Bean, Diocesan Communications and Media Officer

Ph: 03 348 6960 Email:

4 July 2017

Please attribute comment to Bishop Victoria Matthews. Please note the Bishop was committed to be elsewhere this morning some time ago:

“This is a generous offer and I want to acknowledge the very hard work of the Hon. Nicky Wagner.

“The Minister and I have had regular conversations during the past few months, but today’s offer in writing with Cabinet support is new.

“Because we have only just received this proposal from the Government, alongside the Council contribution, there will be much for the Synod members to ponder.

“All the information will go to the pre-Synod meetings for consideration.

“As stated before, the decision on the future of the ChristChurch Cathedral will be made by Synod members on 9 September 2017, and their decision will be implemented by Church Property Trustees.”



Diocese of Christchurch

21 May 2017

Decision on ChristChurch Cathedral will be made in September 2017


Members of the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch’s Synod will make the decision on the future of ChristChurch Cathedral at its meeting in early September 2017.

Synod is the governing body of the Christchurch Diocese and is made up of more than 225 members representing the entire Anglican Diocese of Christchurch.
Making the announcement today (Sunday May 21) Bishop Victoria Mathews said, “We are very aware that the city and beyond is very frustrated with the amount of time it has taken to reach a decision on the future of our beloved Cathedral. Church Property Trustees (CPT) and the entire Diocese share that frustration.
“After much thought and prayer I have decided to reserve the question on the future of the Cathedral in the Square to September 2017 for our diocesan Synod’s decision.  This means that the members of the Synod will decide on the future of the Cathedral, rather than the Church Property Trustees.
’As the ChristChurch Cathedral is a church building above all else, and a place of worship, the decision on its future should be made by the membership of the Synod comprising the gathered clergy and laity of the Diocese who will be using the Cathedral forever.
“One of the factors that influenced my decision was the strong recommendation of the diocesan clergy at our recent clergy conference to take the matter to our Synod.  I acknowledge and thank the clergy who were present for their prayer, support and advice.
“To date the view of the Church has been that we should proceed with a contemporary Cathedral. In 2013 our Synod voted for an inspirational Cathedral. Recently the Standing Committee expressed its view that a new Cathedral, costing no more than the insurance proceeds received for the Cathedral building in the Square, is its preferred option.”
Members of Synod will make a decision on whether to accept an offer to assist with reinstatement from the New Zealand Government or construct an inspirational contemporary cathedral to a design that is, as yet, undecided but the cost of which will be within the $42 million insurance fund.
“For the past six and a half years Church Property Trustees and its staff have done extraordinary due diligence on different options regarding the future of the Cathedral. This includes engineering investigations, quantity surveying and research into fundraising options. Along the way there has been active and passionate debate on what should be done.

“We recently undertook a scientific survey of public preferences among residents from Greater Christchurch on the future of the ChristChurch Cathedral. The results of the research were clear. People’s preferences change when they are fully informed, but there is still no overwhelming preference. People are still divided over whether to reinstate the Cathedral building in the Square or to commit to building a contemporary Cathedral that is inspirational and fit for purpose. We will soon release the survey results.

“Church Property Trustees have carefully sought expert advice on all aspects of a possible reinstatement and considered the Government’s offer towards potential reinstatement,” says Bishop Victoria. “A majority of the Church Property Trustees are inclined to support the contemporary option however these preferences are still not decisive. This is a vitally important question for our Diocese, the Canterbury community and impacts the regeneration of Christchurch which is why I have now made the decision to take the vote to Synod.”


⦁ The Anglican (Diocese of Christchurch) Church Property Trust Act 2003 allows the Chairperson of the Church Property Trustees to reserve matters before the Church Property Trustees to Synod for its decision

⦁ Membership of CPT comprises Chairperson Bishop Victoria Matthews and eight trustees, who are members of the Church elected by the Synod. CPT Trustees are elected by Synod.


⦁ The Church Property Trustee’s decision to build a contemporary inspirational cathedral in the Square was challenged in the courts by the Greater Christchurch Building Trust (GCBT) in 2012 and led to two years of CPT defending its decision.

⦁ In June 2014, the High Court lifted the stay it issued in November 2012 on deconstruction of the Cathedral. This meant CPT could continue with its plan to progress the idea of building a contemporary cathedral in the Square.

⦁ Although there would be significant consenting issues, a beautiful and highly functional inspirational and contemporary cathedral, incorporating features and materials from the old cathedral, could be built within the $42 million of cathedral insurance funds then available.

⦁ This earlier key decision made a commitment to building a contemporary cathedral in the Square. The decision had been based on numerous engineering, costing, risk and other professional evaluations for which CPT sought advice for different options. All key reports were made public.

⦁ In May 2015 CPT’s decision to build a contemporary cathedral was paused following a request from the GCBT to further discuss engineering and costs of a rebuild. At that meeting, GCBT’s experts agreed with CPT’s advice that the approximate cost of a rebuild would be approximately $100m (not $67m as GCBT had been publicly claiming), that base isolation is preferable, and the rebuild project would take approximately seven years.

⦁ CPT approached the government and suggested it might like to become involved. The Crown decided to appoint Miriam Dean QC to assess the situation.

⦁  In a previous conversation with Minister Brownlee, the Bishop and the Trustees present explained very clearly that they believed CPT might do well to move towards a compromise – a build of old and new materials despite the Diocese and CPT stating it had a preference for a contemporary build.

⦁ The Trustees were open to reinstatement as long as when completed the project did not leave the Diocese or CPT in debt. In particular, it was highlighted that CPT could only commit $30m as it needed significant endowments to pay for the maintenance of such an expensive building and also to cover the cost of full replacement insurance, which is estimated at up to $360k a year.

⦁ In January 2016, CPT’s decision to build a contemporary cathedral was again paused, following an approach from the Government to review the feasibility of reinstatement. CPT committed to good faith engagement and rescinded its standing resolution to deconstruct the Cathedral.

⦁ The Government’s Cathedral Working Group’s report confirmed CPT’s advice that the cost of reinstatement (rebuild) was approximately $104m (plus $4m fundraising costs), base isolation is preferable, and reinstatement would take approximately seven years.

⦁ CPT then agreed to a Government request to negotiate a funding and delivery model to reinstate the Cathedral. In late December 2016, CPT believed that an agreement was in place and were ready to sign.  However in November we had the Kaikoura 7.8 earthquake and the following month the Prime Minister resigned.

⦁ By December 21, 2016, the offer on the table which CPT was prepared to sign was changed to an entirely different document – a Statement of Principles.

⦁ In March 2017 the Government clarified the terms of its new offer – $10 million grant and a $15 million loan and legislative assistance for reinstatement.

⦁ On 21 May 2017 Bishop Victoria Mathews announced that the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch’s Synod will make the decision on the future of ChristChurch Cathedral at its meeting in early September 2017.

Note: Individual Church Property Trustees are not available for any further comment.

Media enquiries

Communications Advisor

Jayson Rhodes: 021 661319



22 December 2016

The much-anticipated announcement regarding the reinstatement of the damaged ChristChurch Cathedral will not go ahead before Christmas, as hoped.

Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch, Victoria Matthews said 48 hours ago she and Church Property Trustees were sure there would be a positive announcement in this week before Christmas.

The Bishop said she was greatly saddened given the tireless work of the Cathedral Working Group and Church Property Trustees and staff.

“The Trustees will keep working towards a resolution in the New Year.

“I can assure people that there will be a Cathedral in the Square at the heart of our city,” Bishop Victoria said.


Media contact: Rev Jayson Rhodes: 021 661319



7 July 2016


Dear Friends,

Back in 2010 and 2011 the Diocese of Christchurch said we would put people and safety first and we have kept our word. I am writing to update you on material that is being released into the public domain and would encourage you to view it for yourself. Today the Government has also announced the details of The Working Group to consider options for the reinstatement of the ChristChurch Cathedral. Once a consensus has been reached the group will recommend a way forward with a final report to the Crown and CPT by 7 December 2016. CPT will then make a decision. Today a film showing the interior of the Cathedral building in the Square and some photographs of the exterior is being released to the media and we are including it on our websites.

At present citizens of and visitors to the city visit the Transitional Cathedral and celebrate its innovation and superb design. I believe in the foreseeable future we will again have a Cathedral in the Square. It won’t be easy I believe it is possible. What I am not able to say today is what that inspiring Cathedral will look like. However I do know it will be beautiful and a house of prayer dedicated to God who we worship and adore.
In Christ,

The following is a link to the footage of the interior of the Cathedral


17 March 2016


Engineering rapid assessments have found that the aftershocks that occurred on February 14, 2016 and February 29, 2016 in Christchurch caused significant additional structural damage to ChristChurch Cathedral.

The February 14 aftershock caused additional significant damage to the west wall, south aisle walls, masonry piers, ashlar, south transept gable, transept arches and pulpit.

The investigation by Holmes Consulting Group found that the building sustained:
• “Additional loss of material from the west wall with consequential additional damage to the west porch below.”
• “Significant increase of earthquake damage to the badly damaged south aisle walls. Crack widths in masonry piers were observed to have significantly increased and additional spalling of ashlar has occurred.”
• “Offsets previously observed in the south transept gable have significantly increased with consequential additional damage to ashlar. Additional damage to the north transept gable was less significant.”
• “Damage to the transept arches has noticeably increased. Significant quantities of new rubble were observed to have fallen onto the floor of the crossing and this has caused additional damage to the pulpit.”
• “Cracking to the north and south walls of the apse has noticeably increased.”

In the subsequent February 29 aftershock: “Additional structural damage occurred. Damage observed included general increase of crack widths, structural offsets and additional spalling.”

Prior to, and following these events, the Cathedral remains structurally unstable.

These events are not expected to affect ongoing discussions with the Government regarding addressing the safety and cost issues associated with reinstating ChristChurch Cathedral.




23 December 2015


The Anglican Diocese of Christchurch and the Church Property Trustees (CPT) thank the Government, Minister Brownlee, and the Government appointed independent consultant Miriam Dean QC, for the report commissioned into the future of ChristChurch Cathedral.

The report outlines the options for reinstating the Cathedral, as well as replacing it with a new contemporary building.

“Miriam Dean QC and her team did an excellent job of assessing the positions of the parties involved and finding points of agreement. We are grateful for her hard work,” says the Right Reverend Victoria Matthews, Bishop of Christchurch.

The engineers and quantity surveyors involved were able to reach a large measure of high level agreement on the engineering options and indicative costs of reinstating ChristChurch Cathedral.

The CPT are delighted to note that the report concurred with their engineers and quantity surveyors, and confirmed the cost of reinstatement at $105 million. It also confirms that it is a complex and risky project.

The report stated that reinstatement would require repair, restoration, and reconstruction. The engineers agreed that reinstatement could be completed by 2022.

“The Anglican Diocese of Christchurch and the CPT wish to move past the current deadlock to find a way forward to re-establish a Cathedral in Cathedral Square,” says Bishop Matthews.

“We want to support the city to move forward and we recognise the central importance of this building to many people in Christchurch.

“It is the calling of the church to minister to people; to serve the lost, the last and the least. As the body of Christ we use buildings, but we don’t exist for the sake of bricks and mortar,” says Bishop Matthews.

“Therefore, comprehensive measures to ensure safety during deconstruction and reinstatement, and measures to achieve future safety including 100% of the New Building Standard, as well as sufficient financial resources are essential,” says Bishop Matthews.

The Church Property Trustees will continue confidential conversations with the Government about the challenges of safety and cost which must be addressed before reinstatement can proceed, through a new working group.

Further announcements are expected at the end of April 2016.



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