Further hearing on Teschemakers chapel dispute

The saga over the ornate Italian marble altar in the chapel at the former Teschemakers Catholic girls’ boarding school south of Oamaru is to be considered by the High Court.

The chapel, built in 1916, is on land donated by Ms Scott’s grandfather, Peter McCarthy, in 1911 and 1918 for the boarding school. He also donated buildings. The 270-piece altar, from Italy, was donated to the chapel in 1926 by the Hart family.

When the Dominican Sisters sold Teschemakers in 2000, they intended to gift the altar and the chapel’s stained glass windows to the Holy Name parish. That intention was formalised by a deed of transfer in 2010.

However the Teschemakers Heritage Protection Society opposes removing the altar and stained glass windows to the Holy Name Parish, contending that the chapel, altar and windows should remain together as an architechtural unit.

In August last year, attempts to remove the altar were thwarted by protesters who obtained an interim enforcement order preventing its removal, which was confirmed by the Environment Court in a decision in October last year after Fr Chamberlain had applied for the order to be set aside.

The Environment Court had already ruled the altar was a fixture, not a chattel, but since that ruling in October last year, Fr Chamberlain had further investigations carried out, including 25 digital radar scans of the altar and its concrete foundation, followed by exploratory drilling. The High Court was asked to hear the additional evidence from those investigations which, it was contended by Fr Chamberlain, showed the altar was not fixed, was a chattel and could be shifted without resource consent. The dispute continues.


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