OPINION: Embrace change and allow progress

OPINION: Embrace change and allow progress


The campaign to save ChristChurch Cathedral nearly came to an end last week. An order preventing deconstruction of the building was lifted by the High Court.The Anglican Church and the Great Christchurch Building Trust led by Jim Anderton have been engaged in a prolonged legal battle over its future since the 2011 February earthquake severely damaged it. The Church want it demolished to build a contemporary construction, while the GCBT has fought to rebuild it as it was.

Let’s be clear about the court facts. The judge said the “Church Property Trustees have now committed to the construction of a new cathedral; they gave fair consideration to issues, and there was no evidence that improper motives affected the decision.”

I’ve always admired Jim Anderton’s tenacity and his level-headedness whenever I’ve interviewed him. But surely there comes a time when he needs to just stop, concede defeat and allow Christchurch city to progress. Ironically, it’s been the church that has ‘risen again’ and fairly quickly. For better or worse, they built the transitional cathedral in a matter of months. While not everyone liked the concept, it’s grown on many people and has been largely embraced by the community.

The Save the Cathedral website says “if the leadership of the Anglican Church in Christchurch had not been so committed to the destruction of the Cathedral, the Cathedral would have been well on the way to restoration by now.” But if the church was able to just get on with its own business, the foundations, for the contemporary construction could have been poured by now.

I was brought up in Christchurch and have fond memories of walking up the cathedral and looking out over the city. When friends from out of town stayed, it was usually on the sightseeing list. Its interior highlighted architectural brilliance. It was of course a place of worship, but for many it was just a decent tourist attraction. I still have the memories, just not the building to look at.

For some reason, the anti-demo crew won’t acknowledge a younger generation who might actually like a contemporary design that represents them, or at least progress.

There’s been plenty of discussion on whether or not to save the cathedral and it’s been a mostly healthy democratic debate, except for the occasional political extreme. But let’s move on as a city. The church has made its decision, and so too has the court.

This argument to retain the building has always been based on emotion. Now more than ever that just seems selfish. It’s disappointing to hear that various groups are already considering fighting resource consent applications to prevent the deconstruction. They need to take a look at what New York did. Its most iconic buildings were lost forever, but they came back with the Freedom Tower, which represents the strength of New Yorkers.

Sometimes in life you’ll never get what you want, and the court process has proved that. So instead of resisting change and something new, let’s get behind the church and encourage progress in a time when there seems like there is none.