CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand The Cathedral of Christ Churches was arguably New Zealand’s most iconic building before most of it was destroyed in an earthquake 10 years ago. The years of debate that followed whether the ruins should be rebuilt or demolished came to symbolize the paralysis that has ever plagued Christchurch’s wider reconstruction.
As the city on Monday marks a decade since the quake struck, killing 185 people and living countless more lives, there are finally signs of progress in the cathedral.
Beingsht being rebuilt to look much like the original that was completed in 1904, only with modern day upgrades to make it warmer and safer, and even to add much-needed bathrooms. But first, workers need to stabilize waste.
Peter Carrell, Anglican Bishop of Christchurch, said its reopening would represent a historic moment.
“I think it will be extremely significant because it will be one of the last pieces in the jigsaw puzzle to put Christchurch together,” Carrell said.
Still, the doors are not expected to open for another six years. Saving what is left is more costly and time consuming than breaking down and starting over. And so far, mixing funds from insurance, church, council and government sources add only about two-thirds of New Zealand’s $ 154 million ($ 111 million) price tag.
Keith Paterson, project director, said the goal is for a fundraising team to raise the rest of the money from local and international donors.
We are very confident that we will receive the money by the end of the project, Carrell said. We have a lot of money to start with.
Elsewhere in the city, sleek new buildings are appearing, along with playgrounds and parks. But where some buildings once stood, there are now only empty parking spaces, and the migration of shops and businesses to the suburbs that occurred after the earthquake has not been completely reversed.
An inequality also remains in the neighborhood. Parts of the city in the west look much earlier than before the earthquake. But in the east, where the soil was prone to liquefaction, all the peripheries were flattened.
Authorities have considered the land too unstable for reconstruction. Some suburbs now look like giant parks, with some fruit trees and power lines the only sign that houses were once there.
Richard Cosgrove’s Avon River home on the outskirts of Dallington was one of those that collapsed. The communication counselor recalls the great forces at play during the earthquake.
The whole area sank massively, he said. We had a wooden cottage built in 1922. Basically, the four corners went in separate directions.
Cosgrove said the strong community ties that formed as neighbors tried to save their homes and work on improving the area ended when the government declared it unsafe for reconstruction.
That ruined the community, he said.
Cosgrove and his wife now live out of town on a small farm.
We thought if we moved somewhere else in town it would remind us of what we lost, so we decided to build a new life in the country, he said.
But he remains optimistic about Christchurch and its future. He said the disasters people have suffered have united the community and made it stronger and more resilient, and that many of the foreign workers who came to help rebuild have been as impressed as they have been.
We have a really great city, Cosgrove said. Quite is a rather impressive reconstruction that has continued. I think about all the great things they have done. “
Still, he says, it would have been nice if everything had happened a little faster.
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