Why the Cathedral should not be rebuilt...for now

Does anybody live in the Christchurch Cathedral?

I’m not being asinine – I’m asking a genuine question.

If the answer is yes, and it houses a few families, each supplied with warmth, running water, sanitation and the like, then I should close this column at the end of this sentence.

If the answer is in fact no, then all attempts to repair the dusty old behemoth should be suspended immediately.

Y’see the situation in Christchurch is still tenser than most non-residents can even comprehend: regular quakes above a magnitude 4 rattle already-shaken bones and shells of family homes. Just last week, a 4.6 sent composure flying out the window.

It’s a good chance for policy makers, lobbyists, and campaigners to come out on the side of The Everyman in this situation, and understand that basic human rights are still not being respected for a minority of Canterbury residents.

Instead of attempting to revive his ailing, kill-joy political career, former MP Jim Anderton should be lobbying Gerry Brownlee (a man under fire for allegedly abusing his power as Earthquake Minister) to fast-track insurance claims and assessments on damaged properties.

If Pita Sharples’ comments of last week are anything to go by (that the Christchurch homeless should take shelter in dangerous red zone homes), politicians are exhibiting a lackadaisical and uncaring attitude towards The Everyman and his search for answers and solutions.

This attitude is none more prevalent than amongst those (with presumably secure and undamaged households) who are campaigning for the rebuild of the iconic Christchurch Cathedral.

By all means, we should rebuild such a fantastic piece of architecture and symbol of Cantabrian resilience, but only when every Christchurch resident has been provided with a solution to individual housing issues. From there we can consider job security and more trauma counseling for those that need it, and only after that should we consider slathering mortar on stone in order to piece the Church back together.

Mark Belton, of Restore ChristChurch Cathedral, insists the rebuild could cost less than $100 million.

The average house price in Christchurch is about $400,000. If we’re to divvy up the funds it would cost to rebuild the Cathedral towards housing, then we would be providing around 250 families with a roof over their heads and a sense of security enough to begin rebuilding their lives.

Plans to rebuild the Cathedral must be abandoned as soon as possible. Especially while there are still human beings in need.