The Cathedral Project has received a $500,000 grant from Lottery Environment and Heritage for the earthquake strengthening and development of Taranaki Cathedral.
“This is fantastic news and a real boost as we head into 2019 – a year during which we aim to begin work on our $15 million project,” The Cathedral Project fundraising lead Cathy Thurston said.
“We thank the Lottery Environment and Heritage committee for their much appreciated support, which greatly acknowledges the regional and national significance of this historic site.”
Lottery Environment and Heritage provides grants for projects that help protect, conserve or care for New Zealand’s natural, cultural and physical heritage.
Built in 1846, Taranaki Cathedral is New Zealand’s oldest stone church, but has been closed since January 2016 for earthquake strengthening.
A $15 million remediation and development project, The Cathedral Project, aims to develop a cathedral precinct on the site. The cathedral will be strengthened and upgraded to make it a more flexible place for services, arts, music, drama and other events.
The cathedral grounds will also be enhanced, through the addition of a world-class welcoming space dedicated to former governor-general Sir Paul Reeves, who was the first Māori archbishop of the Anglican church. This will be a place for community events and hospitality, and provide an educational and interpretative experience via displays, audio visual guides and multimedia resources.
The project concept also incorporates the adjacent wooden vicarage, built in 1899, and on-site carparking.
“It is our vision for Taranaki Cathedral to be a place for all people – locals and visitors – and a place where the important and, at times, controversial role the church has played in the history of Taranaki, including being used as a garrison during the Land Wars, is acknowledged and told openly and honestly,” Mrs Thurston said.
“That is very much something that Sir Paul wanted for St Mary’s. A place where the right relationship between Māori and Pakeha could be modelled.”
With fundraising ongoing, preparation for the start of phase one of the project – the cathedral remediation – has progressed. Resource consent was granted in August and engineering, building services and architectural consultants are nearing completion of the final design. The Cathedral Project is aiming for construction work to begin in August 2019.
“The project is extensive and costly, so we are working hard to raise the necessary funds to secure the future of this historic site,” Mrs Thurston said.
“We really urge the public to get in behind it – we don’t want to lose an important part of our history.”