Christchurch Cathedral was built between 1864 and 1904. It was once an icon of the city of Christchurch and stood proudly in the centre of the bustling and popular Cathedral Square. The building stands today as a devastated, unkempt unofficial monument of the horrifically devastating earthquake of February 2011. The Anglican Church de-consecrated the cathedral in November 2011 and it has stood fenced, ruined and derelict in the city centre for the past 6 years.
The cathedral initially suffered superficial damage during the September 2010 earthquake, however the February 2011 quake destroyed the spire and part of the tower, and severely damaged the structure of the cathedral. Initial reports stated that there were up to 20 people in the tower at the time of the collapse and that there could not be any survivors, however this prediction was not correct and the New Zealand Police web page on the Christchurch Quake states that one person died at the site. The west wall suffered further damage and partial collapse during two later earthquakes in June and December of the same year.
The Anglican Church demolished the tower in 2012 as it was so badly damaged it was a danger. The Church then decided to demolish the whole structure and rebuild a new cathedral, however various groups have opposed the Church’s intentions resulting in court cases and no further demolition of the building has occurred. Following concerns over a stalemate between the Church and the opposing groups the government appointed a negotiator to work to try and find a solution and by December 2015 it was stated that all parties had reached an agreement. After further delays and the Church hierarchy not reinstating the cathedral, the Christchurch mayor has recently urged the government to take the building off the Anglican Church and restore it as the city feels that the state of the cathedral is impeding the revitalisation of the city.
And in the mean time the once elegant and beautiful Christchurch Cathedral stands derelict with gaping holes open to the weather and showing her once stunning interior. The once majestic brick structure of the building is held up with ugly, industrial metal framing and is surrounded by high fences. Weeds and grass grow waist high around it. This poignant scene is made even more remarkable when you consider that this is in the city centre!
All photos by Barbara Caisley.