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Do you know the feeling when you have a big project on, someone comes along with a well reasoned argument, (joins all the dots) and you suddenly realise that the project just got a whole lot bigger - but also more worthwhile. Cathedral Remediation and Design Manager Jenny Goddard knows the feeling.
The Way Ahead document, distributed and discussed with the parish over the last four months, has joined the dots for many. “The job in front of us is not just about earthquake strengthening the church and assuming people will arrive,” says Jenny. “It’s about truly opening our doors as an outwardly facing cathedral to welcome people of all faiths and none, to a space that is flexible enough to allow for worship, a meeting or a musical performance”. It is also about looking ahead at what facilities we need to drive our ministry for the next 170 years and ensuring we have an income stream to support that work.
The advantages of ensuring all our activities: Worship, mission, education, tourism, visitor hospitality and parking, are all located on the one cathedral site is obvious. However, what that “site” looks like is still in the consultation stage.
Matters that have become clearer in the last months have been some of the interior modifications proposed for the cathedral. “Our images of the cathedral set up for worship or music without pews, help people to understand and provide feedback,” Jenny says. “The atrium image has also seen a great response.”
Meanwhile work continues on the project’s engineering side. Holmes Consulting delivered its Preliminary Design late December. This starts to address the practical aspects of how the suggested work is going to be done. It is becoming clearer that some of the work requires considerable deconstruction to insert the strengthening, and then reconstruction to cover it up afterwards. It is all doable – Christchurch rebuilds have shown this - but of course it is difficult and costly. Our quantity surveyor has reported some increase in cost but this portion of the total project remains within the estimate.
On the consenting and consulting side, progress is being made. Dean Peter and Jenny met with Heritage NZ in February and found them to be helpful and supportive. In May, BECA will commence work on a geo tech survey of the cathedral site to provide definite data on soil characteristics.
Currently, local archaeologist Ivan Bruce is preparing essential paperwork for an Archaeological Authority to be issued by Heritage NZ.
Jenny says this is required because excavation work under the cathedral is needed to increase the size of the foundations. An initial meeting has been held with Ngāti Te Whiti hapu over this work, and Dean Peter looks forward to welcoming hapu representatives to the site to continue the conversation.
Turning to the fund raising aspect of the project, in February members of the Cathedral Remediation Advisory Group held interviews with 30 Taranaki people who have experience in governance, business and community issues. Dean Peter and Jenny guided each person through the project by first standing in the foyer to the closed cathedral and then onto the courtyard where the atrium is proposed.
“It was an intensive and rewarding three days,” said Peter. “I think I started to sound a bit like a tape recorder by the end!”. The result has been a positive report from our adviser, Compton Associates, that is providing guidance for the newly formed campaign fund raising committee.
Peter Tennent, a former New Plymouth mayor, has been appointed chairperson of the committee. He was already involved with the project through his membership of the advisory group – and his input and enthusiasm are adding further monmentum.
The imminent arrival on site of a project campaign manager will be a very visible sign of the progress that is being made. Bit by bit, we move ahead!