CHRISTCHURCH – The Christ Church Cathedral was arguably New Zealand's most iconic building before much of it crumbled in an earthquake 10 years ago. The years of debate that followed over whether the ruins should be rebuilt or demolished came to symbolize the paralysis that has sometimes afflicted the broader rebuild of Christchurch.
As the city on Monday marks one decade since the quake struck, killing 185 people and upending countless more lives, there are finally signs of progress on the cathedral.
It's being rebuilt to look much like the original that was finished in 1904, only with modern-day improvements to make it warmer and safer, even to add extra much-needed bathrooms. But first, workers must stabilize the remains.
Peter Carrell, the Anglican bishop of Christchurch, said reopening it will represent a key milestone.
“I think it will be hugely significant, because it will be one of the final pieces in the jigsaw of putting Christchurch back together," Carrell said. “It will be a healing of the heart of Christchurch after the earthquake.”
Still, the doors aren't expected to open for another six years. Preserving what's left is more costly and time-consuming than demolishing and starting again. And so far, the mix of funds from insurance, church, council and government sources adds up to only about two-thirds of the 154 million New Zealand dollar ($111 million) price tag.
Keith Paterson, the project director, said the aim is for a fundraising team to raise the rest of the money from both local and international donors.
“We're very confident we'll get the money in by the time the project is finished,” said Carrell. “We've got plenty of money to start with.”