An open and honest telling of Taranaki Cathedral’s past will help more people understand the church’s role in the region’s turbulent... read more
Breaking big projects down into lots of small, manageable and consecutive steps is really what project management is all about. Cathedral Remediation + Design Manager Jenny Goddard says that over the last few months a few of those important steps in The Cathedral Project have been tackled.
In June, soil testing was completed. Hamilton-based Beca geotechnical engineer, Madeleine Prebble and Jordan Young, an undergraduate in mechanical engineering (and son of New Plymouth MP Jonathan Young), were on site to gain more information on the characteristics of the soil the cathedral rests upon.
“We are doing this work to understand the potential for liquefaction and seismic-induced settlement of the site when there’s an earthquake,” Jenny explains. “ Holmes Consulting, our structural engineers, need this information when they move on to the final stages of earthquake design.”
Ten hand auger bores were drilled down to two metres and two cone penetration tests were completed by machine boring down to around 14 metres. The sites of the probes were carefully chosen to ensure as far as possible that previously undisturbed ground was probed. Obviously there was also the need to avoid services or any areas that might be suspected as unmarked graves. “The team ensured all soil was returned, and in fact when all work was completed, it was difficult to see where they had been.”
Jenny expects the geotechnical report will be completed in July. “Currently the strengthening design includes new foundation work at the eastern end of the church and in the centre under the pillars. Less foundation work would be good news as all digging will cause disturbance and may uncover graves that are believed to be in the vicinity. It also has cost implications.”
Another related and important step has been the filing of an Archaeological Authority with Heritage NZ to allow for likely foundation excavation work. Ivan Bruce, a local and well respected archaeologist, has completed the application on our behalf. Whenever excavation work is taking place around buildings that pre-date 1900, an Archaeological Authority is required.
“All archaeological sites are protected under the Heritage New Zealand Pohere Taonga Act,“ Jenny explains. “The purpose of the act is to prevent destruction of such sites and where they are affected, they must be fully recorded prior to being demolished or altered.”
Particularly in the 1893 extension of the church, part of the graveyard was covered and old records are not clear in determining where graves were relocated. Potentially the new foundation work could encounter some of these graves. If this was the case, the grave would be treated in a respectful manner and according to a clear legal process.
The Cathedral Remediation Advisory Group meets monthly to ensure this large project ‘keeps on track.’ The appointment of Tennent Brown Ltd as architects for Stage One - the cathedral earthquake works - is a really important milestone. “ Tennent Brown have huge experience in dealing with sacred spaces as precious as our own St Mary’s, says Jenny.
“They will bring together the work of the engineers and conservation architect and ensure the interior changes we have been talking about really do enhance the space. It’s an exciting appointment – we are in good hands with Hugh Tennent and his team. “
Jenny also says that having Jan Mason and the campaign office on site is excellent. “It’s a daily reminder of the fund-raising task before us all. Just how quickly we can get the cathedral re-opened and re-energised is dependent on funds. Just like all the steps in the plan, it is doable though - many hands make light work.”