WelCom August 2020
Hopes for a fully restored and strengthened Cathedral have soared with the Category 1 historic building qualifying for a Government grant, from its ‘shovel ready’ infrastructure fund.
A ‘shovel ready’ construction project is where planning and engineering is advanced enough that with sufficient funding, construction can begin within a very short time.
The Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Hill St, Thorndon has been closed since July 2018 due to seismic risk. Over the past two years Sacred Heart Parish and the Archdiocese of Wellington have been planning work to strengthen and renovate the interior and exterior of the Cathedral as well as refurbish the historic Hobday organ.
On 24 July, Minister of Finance Grant Robertson announced government’s support for the project noting that work is scheduled to begin in August with almost 300 construction jobs to be created over the period of the next three years.
‘This project is ready to go right now. The Government is putting $8.5 million towards the project which meets all the criteria for funding under the $3 billion infrastructure fund announced at Budget 2020,’ said Mr Robertson. ‘The restoration is expected to take about three years and once complete will see this Category 1 Historic Place once again available for the Wellington community to use.
‘The Cathedral is not only widely used by the Catholic congregation but also by the public as a performance space because of its globally acclaimed acoustics. It is also a tourist attraction because of its architectural merits,’ Grant Robertson said.
The $8.5 million grant will enable the difficult and expensive ‘base isolation’ to go ahead for Cathedral. This, together with the strengthening of the roof structure, will meet 90 per cent of the national Earthquake Code.
The Archdiocese and Cathedral Parish were set to begin the roofing work this August, not counting on their application to Government being successful.
A strengthened roof would have seen the Cathedral reopened next year, but not fully up to code. With public funding, a fully restored heritage treasure will be available for the spiritual and cultural welfare of everyone.
‘This is marvellous news,’ beamed John Prendergast, General Manager of the Archdiocese, both extremely delighted and grateful that the application had gone through.
‘This is a public endorsement of the Cathedral as a highly significant building for the city and New Zealand,’ he said.
The Cathedral Parish community has been using St Thomas More Church in Wilton and the Cathedral chapel for Mass.
The Cathedral will remain closed throughout the projects, but no one should be disappointed says John Prendergast.
‘We have the best possible opportunity to ensure Sacred Heart Cathedral, that has served for well over 100 years, to be enjoyed as a place of worship, inspiration and hospitality for many generations to come.’