The Restoration of St Patrick’s Church, Akaroa

The iconic St Patrick’s Church on Rue Lavaud, Akaroa, is to receive a major restoration.

The 153 year-old category 1 Historic Church was built in 1864 by Irishman Patrick Joseph Cullen, funded by the Apostle of Canterbury, Fr Jean-Baptiste Chataigner sm, and has served the Catholic community all that time and is still doing so.

St Patrick’s Church is open every day and all day. In the summer months, hundreds of people make visits each day, taking up the new roadside invitation to ‘make a visit, light a candle, say a prayer,’ especially when the busy cruise ship season is at its peak.

It must be one of the most photographed churches in New Zealand. The well-used visitors’ book carries comments such as ‘so peaceful and beautiful; a lovely sanctuary; delightful.’

However, getting to the stage of a full restoration has been full of delays. Action was imminent in 2012 but the Christchurch earthquake pushed it off the diocesan radar screen as destroyed and damaged churches in the city took priority.

But the local parish committee pressed ahead with getting engineering and heritage assessments and their persistence has led the new Christchurch Catholic Diocesan Management team to take over the project.

They have recently been successful in getting final resource consent from the Christchurch City Council, which was concerned to see this treasured heritage church fully and correctly renovated.

Age and the elements over the past 153 years have meant much of the Church has to be replaced or renewed. Borer has fed on much of the timber, the roof needs to be completely replaced and some earthquake damage to the tower needs to be repaired.

The estimated cost is $810.000, a tall order for the small number of resident Catholics of Akaroa! The Parish has been challenged to raise $260,000, and an all-out effort is being made to achieve that under the direction of a professional organisation called ‘Askright’ that the late Bishop Barry Jones DD engaged. Continue reading


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