Christchurch's Anglican cathedral to be rebuilt, six years after deadly earthquake

Wikimedia CommonsDamage to Christchurch cathedral after a deadly earthquake in 2011

A decision in New Zealand has been made to rebuild Christchurch's Anglican cathedral, six years after it was badly damaged in a deadly earthquake.

Large sections of the late 19th–century, neo-Gothic building collapsed in the 6.3-magnitude quake in which 185 people were killed and the South Island city's downtown area was levelled in February 2011.

The cathedral's future has been the subject of debate since 2013, when a temporary church on the site was made out of cardboard.

The Anglican Church sought to tear the structure down and start afresh on cost grounds, claiming that the restoration estimate of more than NZ$100 million ($73 million) was prohibitive.

But heritage groups, who welcomed yesterday's decision, challenged the Anglican position in court, arguing that the cathedral was an intrinsic part of the city's historical fabric.

A compromise was finally announced over the weekend which capped the church's liability in the rebuilding process.

'People are overjoyed and delighted with the decision,' Restore Christchurch Cathedral co-chair Mark Belton told AFP. 'From our point of view sanity has been restored.'

Belton added that to have demolished the historic cathedral precinct would have 'ripped the heart out of the city'.

He went on: 'This will allow a wound to be healed.'

Heritage New Zealand's Claire Craig said the restoration was 'a significant milestone in the redevelopment of the city...With so much heritage lost following the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes, the recovery of the city's defining landmark will be welcomed by locals and visitors alike.'

Work is scheduled to begin before the end of this year, and the Church expects the rebuilding process to take up to a decade.