A multi-million dollar insurance payout for the
earthquake-crippled Christ Church Cathedral should be used to
help fund the Anglican Church's temporary cardboard
cathedral, a court heard today.
The legal row over the landmark Christchurch building has
returned to the High Court, with the church seeking a
decision over whether it can use $4 million of its insurance
money to pay for the majority of the temporary cathedral
costs, which is already under construction in the city.
It sought the clarification after a High Court hearing last
year when Justice Lester Chisholm suggested in his judgement
that it was illegal to do so and ordered a halt to the
demolition of the stricken cathedral.
The Great Christchurch Buildings Trust (GCBT) took the
neo-Gothic style cathedral's owner, the Church Property Trust
(CPT), to court in October in a last-ditch legal bid to have
The cathedral was badly damaged in the fatal February 22,
2011 quake, which snapped its spire.
Its damaged state prompted the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery
Authority (Cera) to issue a section 38 unsafe building
notice, which demanded urgent action.
Anglican Bishop Victoria Matthews announced plans to
deconstruct the cathedral to a safe level of 2-3 metres above
the ground last year.
The decision sparked public protests and the GCBT, led by
former MP Jim Anderton, battled to save the landmark city
They sought a declaratory court judgment to determine whether
the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch's decision to
deconstruct breached an Act of Parliament designed to protect
Justice Chisholm said the CPT, while having to make a
difficult and complex decision under tight time pressures,
was wrong to think its cathedral trust was there only for the
advancement of religion and maintenance of the ecclesiastical
institution, not particular buildings.
Today, lawyer for the CPT, Jared Ormsby argued that since the
parish paid for the church's insurance policy, which covered
all of its assets, as well as material damage, contents and
fixtures, the pay-out should be for the whole parish - not
just one particular building.
He said the case centred around two fundamental questions:
whether the insurance money should only be used for the
cathedral, and whether a cathedral is a simply a building or
one that includes "wider spiritual elements and dimensions''.
When members of the congregation gave their offertories, he
said there was no doubt in their minds that it was for "the
wider purposes of the church''.
And the money is held "on wider terms", Mr Ormsby said.
"The funds are held not only for the business of the
cathedral, but for the purposes of the cathedral parish.''
The hearing, before Justice Graham Panckhurst, continues and
is expected to conclude tomorrow.