Why Is this Project taking place?

A detailed seismic assessment of Taranaki Cathedral  was undertaken in 2015 and found that the building  was Earthquake Prone.  In January 2016, due to public safety concerns, the cathedral was closed to the public.  Since then, all church services have been held across the road in the Peace Hall.

How do the engineers propose to  strengthen  the cathedral?

The main components of the strengthening will be:

the addition of steel members and plywood to the roof (which will require the roof to be removed)

a new concrete beam at the top of the stone walls which the structural elements of the roof will be connected to.

steel rods inserted into the walls and a grout mixture injected in to the wall cavity around these additional concrete foundations


Will the strengthening components be visible?

The aim is to minimise the visual impacts and, accordingly, most of the work is above the beautiful timber ceiling, and within or under the stone walls.  Steel brackets connecting the rafters and wall top will be visible and it is likely a horizontal steel beam will be visible on the western gable end on the interior and exterior.  Careful and challenging deconstruction work, and then reconstruction after the new elements are added, is proposed.

Are you sure the sub structure of the building is adequate?

Geo tech specialists are scheduled to undertake detailed site investigations in the coming months.  Among other checks, this will indicate if soil on the site may be subject to liquefaction.  Currently the engineering design is taking a worst case scenario in regard to this aspect.

Are interior changes planned for the cathedral?

The hiatus caused by the closure of the cathedral has been an ideal time to consider interior enhancements that improve the comfort and flexibility of the space for both worship and community use. 

An extensive consultation exercise with our parish is ongoing but already the advantage of removeable seating over fixed pews has been realised.  More responsive heating and lighting systems will be installed, and a level floor is also seen as advantageous  for contemporary worship, performance and an aging population. 

Are exterior changes planned for the cathedral?

All exterior changes to this Category 1 Heritage building need to be carefully considered.  The new roof for instance will be welsh slates, matched as closely as possible to the existing.  These slates have a minimum 100 year warranty.   The proposed atrium would not change the view of the cathedral from the street, which is important.

Why are you planning other building work on the site?

Currently the mission and ministry activities of the cathedral are split between sites on the northern side of Vivian Street and the cathedral on the south side. The busy roadway between the sites is a dangerous and inconvenient division.  We see efficiencies in bringing all our activities on to the one southern site surrounding the cathedral.  The proposed atrium and an extension of the Hatherly Hall westwards, are seen as the most logical way to accommodate our space requirements.  This would then allow the church to consider alternative uses for the northern site, with an intention to gain ongoing operational funding from a ground lease of the land.

What is the purpose of the atrium?

The proposed atrium replaces the Peace Hall as a hospitality and gathering space- potentially for a pre or after concert gathering, a wedding reception, community cafe or an aerobics class.  Pitched over the existing courtyard, it would provide an all-weather space linking the vestry, Hatherly Hall and cathedral. With the trees of the churchyard on one side, and the stone wall of the cathedral on the other, it has the potential to be a premier reception space in the province. 

How much will the project cost?

Overall funding requirment is $15 million, of which $9 million relates directly to the earthquake strenghtening of the cathedral.

Does the Diocese of Waikato have funds available for the strengthening?

A contribution has been received from the Diocese,  but with over fifty parishes in its, care many of whom also face the need for earthquake strenghthening, there is no ability to fund this project. On going sustainability is a key driver for this project. The Cathedral project aims to make better use of our land and historically significant building to improve our financial viability.    

How long is the project going to take?

We are aiming to have contractors working on the strengthening by the end of 2018, subject to funding being in place. The expectation is that the work will take close to a year to complete, so we are planning on the cathedral reopening in 2020.  Successive stages of the project will begin while the cathedral works are underway and continue once it is reopened.

Who is managing and overseeing the project? 

The Cathedral Advisory Group is doing this.  Its members include the NZ Archbishop Philip Richardson (who is also Bishop of Taranaki), Dean Peter Beck, representatives of Taranaki Anglican Trust Board, along with community and parish representatives.  The Campaign Executive Committee is leading the fundraising for the project.  

Key organisations and consultants providing input thus far include Holmes Consulting (engineering), Conservation Architect Ian Bowman, Heritage NZ , New Plymouth District Council and central government.


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