Danger involved in trying to retrieve treasures from cathedral


The head of the team working to deconstruct Christchurch’s  Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament says they are endeavouring to save important features but have to weigh up costs and safety concerns.

Tony Sewell is the project director for the Catholic Cathedral precinct, which includes the development and construction of the new Cathedral and the deconstruction/demolition of the old Cathedral.

“The building is very dangerous. We have had one or two incidents of falling pieces of material, which make us glad we are taking the approach we have,” Sewell said.

He says many of the important artefacts have already been removed.

Now they are trying to determine if they can save some of the remaining items include stained glass windows, the organ and the Llew Summers Stations of the Cross.

“Can we put that person in there safely and not put their life at risk to save these things.

And what is the cost of doing that? Or do we have to take it down in another way to allow that to happen?

“I can’t say to people yes we will save the Stations of the Cross or this or that because we can’t ascertain it until we go through these stages.”

Sculptor Llew Summers’ 14 Stations of the Cross were commissioned for the Cathedral in 2000, but the sculptures attracted controversy due to Jesus being depicted naked in one of the images.

To save the Stations of the Cross, they would need to put someone into the building to physically remove them by breaking them out of the walls, where they are plastered in.

“These are the issues we are dealing with.

It’s not just a question of getting someone to walk in there with a chisel and chip them off the wall. It’s just not that easy,” Sewell said.

He said they also have to consider whether the cost of removing the organ, for example, would be more than the cost of putting a new organ into a new building.


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News category: New Zealand.

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