How giving is helping to get it done

12 June 2023News

This article was written for Philanthropy New Zealand,  12 June 2023

It is a project for the city and its people. 

It is for all faiths and none.

It will be completed through the generosity of individuals, government, and businesses.

The Christ Church Cathedral Reinstatement Project is returning Christ Church Cathedral to its rightful place as the iconic structure of Christchurch at the heart of the city.

After twelve years, the removal of 248 tonnes of rubble, and the installation of 408 tonnes of steel to stabilise the Cathedral walls, people were welcomed back for the first time into the Cathedral’s nave on 21 March 2023. Bishop Peter Carrell, Pihopa Richard Wallace, and the team of Christ Church Cathedral Reinstatement Limited (CCRL), recognising the civic importance of this achievement, welcomed civic leaders, Christchurch faith leaders, donors, businesses, and the entire design and construction project team to celebrate this landmark occasion. 

Emotions ran high as necks craned to the heights and guests experienced the wonders of this historic space. Hours later, scaffolding was going up inside the nave and stone masons resumed their hammering and chiselling as the next phase of reinstatement commenced.

Everyone working on this project is humbled by this once-in-a-lifetime project.  Some days are like a treasure hunt as when James Atherton, a UK specialist organ voicer, found a 1920s Hill, Norman and Beard Harmonic Clarabella stop as he dismantled the organ.  His excitement in finding what is a rare survivor of this unique stop was palpable.  Other days celebrate a collaborative solution to how 66 base isolators will be placed beneath the Cathedral making it the first full masonry cathedral in the world to be base-isolated.

Each day brings a new challenge and a new excitement. We frequently share these with the people who are making the project happen by bringing them onto site, sharing our journey to stimulate connection and giving.  Businesses are contributing to the Cathedral’s reinstatement, proud to be associated with this iconic civic project.  They understand that the Cathedral offers a place of quiet contemplation for all people while also being an important drawcard for tourist visits to Christchurch city.

Individuals are contributing.  One 92-year-old woman wrote us, “I’ve had a good run and was ready to die but seeing the progress on the Cathedral I now want to live until it’s completed.  I’m glad the Tower has a lift.” 

Another person wrote:

to say that these words on your website moved me to tears: " will offer a spiritual home to Anglicans, welcome all faiths and none..."

For so long I have found spiritual places like these lovely, and sometimes welcoming of all faiths.... but never before have I read the "and none". And now I feel included. Truly welcomed and spiritually connected even though I'm Atheist.

People from around the globe are contributing.  Whether a visit to Christchurch or to the Project’s     website inspires them, donors from Thailand, Germany, Japan, Austria, United Kingdom, United States, France and over 27 countries are contributing. 

A national taonga, Christ Church Cathedral connects generations and peoples through history and architecture. A specially commissioned ātea by Christchurch artist Marion Maguire will extend an inclusive welcome from the steps of the Cathedral into Cathedral square, creating a special sense of space on this pivotal land at the heart of Christchurch.  With project completion scheduled for 2027, Cantabrians and visitors will once again climb the steps of the Tower to gaze across the city.

Like a Phoenix, Christ Church Cathedral is rising from the rubble.  It is thanks to the many people, businesses and leaders who are contributing that this project will succeed.  And when the Cathedral, Tower, Visitors Centre, and Cathedral Centre open their doors in 2027, Cantabrians will know that the heart of their city beats again.

Mā ō tātou ringa, ka rewa anō te tuara o tō tatou whare karakia.*

With all of our hands the roof of our Cathedral will rise again.

 *Whakatauki gifted by Ngāi Tūāhuriri

 Catherine Boyer is a CCRL Director and is also serving as Campaign Manager