We have three sections of FAQ’s on this page:

  1. General questions: Our vision for and progress towards establishing Taranaki Cathedral as a centre for peace & reconciliation
  2. Funding: How much this project will cost, who is supporting it and the fundraising success we’ve had to date
  3. Reopening Taranaki Cathedral: What work needs to be carried out


SECTION 1: General FAQs


What are you trying to do?

We want to establish Taranaki Cathedral as a centre for peace and reconciliation.


The site has had a complicated place within the history of our rohe’s colonization and the resulting land wars. Like Sir Paul Reeves – former Archbishop and Governor General of New Zealand and direct descendent of Te Whiti-o-Rongomai III – we believe that within our stories there are questions, truths and understandings about New Zealand history, colonization and the Land Wars that are relevant to all New Zealanders.


Our hope is that through an honest, inclusive retelling of Taranaki Cathedral’s history, we can foster understanding and inspire people to work towards peace and reconciliation.


What does that mean practically?

Creating a centre for peace and reconciliation involves a lot of different things happening – but simply put there are three key parts to our activity.


(1,2, 3 Graphic and explanation as attached)


Who will be telling the story of the history of the site?

Wellington-based Story Inc have been appointed (after an EOI process) to generate an engaging and transformative visitor experience based on the bicultural history of the site.


Story Inc have a proven track-record telling complicated stories in compelling ways – a recent example of their work is He Tohu, the National Library’s permanent exhibition of the three iconic constitutional documents that shaped Aotearoa New Zealand.


Story Inc are already underway envisaging and designing the visitor experience which will be site wide but primarily located within Te Whare Hononga. 


Has the issue with Resource Consent been resolved??

Yes! A Taranaki Cathedral neighbour challenged the process by which NPDC granted our Resource Consent but in December 2020, High Court Judge Justice Doogue ruled that NPDC did follow the correct process and our Resource Consent should stand. This cleared the way for us to continue with our plans to renovate the Vicarage, create Te Manu Hononga / The Sir Paul Reeves Education Centre, build Te Whare Hononga and earthquake strengthen and reopen Taranaki Cathedral Church of St Mary.


We are relieved  by the decision but sadly the 5 month stoppage will result in an 8+ month delay (because various partners involved need to re-clear capacity). Work onsite is now expected to restart in August 2021.


SECTION 2: Funding FAQs


How much will this cost?

The overall funding requirement is between $16 and $16.5  million (as of December 2020). The new figure takes into account increased costs caused by the recent Judicial Review and associated delays and also the fact that construction costs have risen since we prepared our original budgets back in 2018.


How much money have you raised so far

As of November 2020 we have raised (a little over) $12 million.


Most recently a grant towards the development of the Paul Reeves Education Centre (Te Manu Hononga) of $3 million dollars was made by St John’s College Trust Board, acting on the advice of Te Kotahitanga, in November 2020.


Did the Government contribute money?

Yes we secured $5 million of funding from the Provincial Growth Fund.


We have a contract in place with the PGF which says it will provide:


The funding is interlinked. We cannot choose to only access some of it, we need to complete the project in its entirety.


Is the Diocese of Waikato and Taranaki providing funding?

An initial contribution has been received from the Diocese which recognises its firm support for our vision. However with over 50 parishes in its care many of whom also face the need for earthquake strengthening and lack sufficient financial reserves to undertake the task, there is no ability for the Diocese to fully fund this project.


What role is the Parish and its congregation playing?

The Parish congregation has maintained the Church of St Mary for generations and will continue to do so, in addition to meeting its operational responsibilities such as supporting clergy in their day to day positions, admin staffing, programmes like the Community Café and chaplains at workplaces and rest homes.  The congregation is mobilised in support and is making a significant contribution over and above this.



SECTION 3: Reopening Taranaki Cathedral FAQs



Why is Taranaki Cathedral closed?

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.


Why not just focus on reopening the Cathedral?

There are two main reasons we are earthquake strengthening Taranaki Cathedral as part of a suite of works designed to transform the site into a centre for peace and reconciliation.

  1. We believe we have an amazing opportunity to create something that will have a profound effect on the future of all New Zealanders.
  2. There are not enough funding opportunities to raise the more than $10 million required to carry out the earthquake strengthening work. Including this aspect of work within the larger project has allowed us to secure funding (from the PGF, the Lotteries Commission, TSB Community Trust and St John’s College Trust Board) that would not be available to a project limited to earthquake strengthening work.


How do the engineers propose to strengthen the cathedral?

The main components of the strengthening will be:


 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 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 has been undertaken with our parish and with other potential user groups. As a result the decision has been taken to remove the existing pews from the cathedral to allow for a type of chair that will allow us to set up different seating arrangements or even total clearance of the space. This simply is not possible with the beautiful but extremely heavy pews. The advantages of being able to set seating out to suit different occasions is fundamental to our aim of greater use of the cathedral space by our community.

More responsive heating and lighting systems will be installed in line with modern expectations. We are also planning for the uppermost level of the sanctuary to be lowered making a larger platform at just 500mm above the main nave level. This will mean less steps and ramp access will be possible to this area – something which is so important with our 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 slates.  These slates have a minimum 100 year warranty.  


Who is managing and overseeing the project? 

The Project Governance Board is headed up by John Eagles who is also Chair of the Taranaki Anglican Trust Board, the building owners. Other members of the Board include our Fundraising lead, Cathy Thurston, The Peoples Warden, Julie Otene, Treasurer Barbara Brockie, the Cathedral Dean, Remediation Manager, Jenny Goddard and Reverend Peter Barleyman (representing interests around the mountain).

Key consultants providing input thus far include Holmes Consulting (engineering), Conservation Architect Ian Bowman, and Architects Tennent Brown Ltd.


What does the Cathedral do for the Community?

Taranaki Cathedral has a mandate to be “as Christ in the community”.  This doesn’t just mean holding church services for a congregation on a Sunday! The cathedral has a substantial community mission and role. This is historically a primary role of cathedrals and since the earliest of time have been serving their cities and provinces as places where we go to celebrate and grieve irrespective of faith, gender or race.  Many of the changes we are making to the interior of the Cathedral will make it more useful to the community for performance and debate.

The weekly Community Cafe supports a range of charitable causes internationally while the Op Shop, called Stop In, raises thousands each year for causes in Taranaki and throughout New Zealand. The Foodbank and counselling services are provided with rent free premises.  Programmes for youth, toddlers and the elderly all run from the cathedral and touch hundreds of people.  See www.taranakicathedral.org.nz for more information.

Taranaki Cathedral is the seat of the Anglican Bishopric, which runs the Bishop’s Action Foundation, established many years ago.  BAF (www.baf.org.nz) is involved in myriad community projects from affordable housing to social enterprise and programmes for children and young people.   It also carries out research and empowers many community organisations by offering training, governance programmes and online resources such as The Wheelhouse.




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