“Christchurch Town Hall: Old dunger or heritage icon?” Public Lecture By Dr Ian Lochhead 6pm Wednesday 28th October.

A Lecture by Dr Ian Lochhead
 Rose Chapel, 866 Colombo Street at 6pm Wednesday 28th October.
Ian Lochhead, editor of the book, The Christchurch Town Hall 1965 -2019: A Dream Renewed, reflects on the building’s national and international significance.

He asks the question, how did a small city, far from the world’s centres of culture, come to build an auditorium that helped to redefine what a late twentieth-century concert hall could be? 

The lecture also examines the Town Hall's importance for Christchurch's identity in the 21st century.

Doors open 5.30pm.

“Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, Barbadoes Street, Christchurch” Restore Our Catholic Cathedral Media Release

3 September 2020

Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, Barbadoes Street, Christchurch

It was always going to be an uphill battle to challenge the demolition of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament but the Restore our Catholic Cathedral (RoCC) group felt it essential that every possible attempt should be made to try to save this Category 1 Heritage New Zealand listed building from demolition.

The most asked question today is why has there not been outrage before now regarding the demolition? The answer is simple. Up until August 2019 the Catholic Diocese and the general public had been lulled into a false sense of security because Bishop Barry Jones had declared the Cathedral would be saved. The nave would be restored using the $45m insurance money available, and the remainder would be made safe and mothballed until further funds became available for restoration. This procedure is in line with international best practice and was heralded as so.

Unfortunately Bishop Jones died and a new Bishop ordained. Bishop Paul Martin had other ideas most of which he did not share in great detail. The first hint of the Bishop’s plan was included in the publication ‘Our Faith Our Future’ dated 9 June 2019 where he set out his proposals for new parishes. In Christchurch Central it states ‘Cathedral – at either Barbadoes Street or on a new site’. The Bishop had already made his decision as six weeks later, for according to the Charities Register, on 26 July 2019, The Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Christchurch acquired 100% of a company that owns land in the central city. On 29 October 2019, the Diocese paid a deposit towards another central city land purchase with settlement expected on 19 December 2019. The total value of these acquisitions was $29,000,000. However, as these transactions were subsequent to the June 2019 financials the details will not be in the public domain until nearer to the end of 2020, given that tax charities have six months past balance date to file with Charities Services.

The alarm bells started to ring. Thus RoCC was formed in August 2019. Our concerns around the proposed demolition related mainly to the status of the land, the Bishop’s empowering legislation, canon law, the lack of consultation and the s38 process.

The current demolition is concerning, at least on a human level, that the Bishop has –

  1. Not engaged in any public/Catholic community consultation about the matter. This is notwithstanding that the future of the Cathedral is something which is of concern/interest to the wider Canterbury community and more importantly, to the Catholic community in the whole of New Zealand;
  2. Not really provided any of the information which would have been required under the s38 Notice to show exactly why he has reached such a significant decision. We cannot see any reason why the Bishop is not willing to provide us with the documentation we requested. It is not commercially sensitive. His fear seems to be that it would open up debate about his decision. This does not appear to be something that the Bishop is willing to countenance.

RoCC is mystified why in 2015 the independent hearings panel dealing with the District Plan would not have retained the safeguards for the Cathedral that were built into the s38 Notice. Whether this was a result of representations made to that panel by the Diocese is not known to us. Certainly, our understanding was that the demolition of the Cathedral was to be a step of last resort, once it was clear that there was no other viable option. We do not understand why Heritage NZ has taken so little interest in the matter of preserving the Cathedral, given the aims of the organisation as New Zealand’s leading advocate for heritage. An investigation into the legality of Bishop Paul Martin’s intention to demolish by misusing the intention of his predecessor’s request for a s38 was essential. The group immediately investigated the legal means to prevent the demolition and to learn of the terms around the s38.

An expert in Resource Management Law was consulted who advised that as a result of the 2015 Independent Hearing Panel (IHP) process, chaired by Sir John Hansen, the district plan introduced controlled activity status for demolition and/or deconstruction of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament that is not in accordance with the s38 Notice issued by CERA which required a 12 step process to be instituted prior to any deconstruction. Under the RMA, a controlledactivityisnotabletobedeclinedbytheCouncil. Conditionsareabletobeimposed in respect of the demolition process, provided they are consistent with matters over which a control has been reserved in the district plan, although conditions are unable to prevent or frustratedemolition. ArgumentshadbeenpresentedtotheIHPthatconditionsoughttorequire the Roman Catholic Bishop to demonstrate that it was no longer possible to adhere fully to conditions of the s38 Notice, although these were not accepted by the IHP.

Accordingly, as matters stand, it is open to the Roman Catholic Bishop, Paul Martin, to obtain controlled activity consent for full demolition of the Cathedral only if the stepped process proves that restoration is not possible. RoCC’s view is that this is questionable.

This was devasting news for the group. However, undeterred we raised funds to engage a Barrister and Instructing Solicitor for an opinion for a judicial review as to the lawfulness of the decision to demolish the Cathedral.

RoCCV was informed there is no legal basis on which we could seriously contend to the High Court (in its supervisory jurisdiction) that the Bishop was acting illegally in terms of the decision to demolish vis a vis the Trust Deed. The morality of the Bishop Paul Martin’s decision is quite another matter in light of the clearly stated intention by his predecessor to retain the cathedral.

RoCC Group,
Dame Anna Crighton Convenor and Spokesperson, 021 1844 689
Alice Flett
Ross Gray
Lynne Lochhead.

Canterbury Heritage Awards Postponed For One Year

2020 Awards | COVID-19 Update

Important Notice

We trust you and your families are safe and well.

Because of the Covid19 pandemic the ceremony for the Box 112 Canterbury Heritage Awards 2020 to be held on Friday 12 June in the Christ’s College Dining Hall and the lecture with international and local speakers to be held on 11 June In the Gloucester Room at the Isaac Theatre Royal, are now both postponed for one year.

The revised dates are for the ceremony to be held on Friday 11 June 2021 and the lecture on Thursday 10 June 2021.

We thank you for your continued support of the awards and appreciate your understanding at this time.

We look forward to an exciting event in 2021.

(Taken from the Canterbury Heritage Awards web site.)

“Two Christchurch heritage buildings share $1.2m in ratepayer funds” The Press (Online Article 27.02.2020)

Two Christchurch heritage buildings share $1.2m in ratepayer funds The Press Online

" ...The former Livingspace building at Sol Square (96 Lichfield St) and the Design and Arts College building at 116 Worcester St have each received $600,000 toward their multimillion-dollar repairs and refurbishments. ...


“Christ Church Cathedral work could start within weeks” The Press (Online Article 15.02.2020)

Christ Church Cathedral work could start within weeks The Press Online

"... The consent application has been lodged by a joint-venture company formed by the Anglican diocese and the Crown to run the project, and they hope to start work in April. .."


Box 112 Canterbury Heritage Awards 2020 Entries Open.

Entries are now open for the Box 112 Canterbury Heritage Awards 2020. The Awards, held every two years, recognise excellence in heritage retention and conservation, heritage tourism and heritage education within the public and private sector and promote the values of best practice heritage retention and conservation to the wider community. 2020 is all the more special, as the Awards celebrate their 10th anniversary.

Projects, individuals and organisations from throughout Canterbury are encouraged to enter the awards. The 2020 Categories are:

ChristchurchNZ Supreme Award
(picked from category winners)

Warren & Mahoney Future Heritage Award

The Stephen Collins Memorial Seismic Award

Heritage New Zealand Outstanding Contribution to Heritage

Moveable Feasts Heritage Tourism Award

Public Realm Saved and Restored

Domestic Saved and Restored

Entering is easy – go to our website www.heritageawards.co.nz and fill out the online form. More information about the entry process and category criteria is available on our website or feel free to get in touch:

Email: info@heritageawards.co.nz

Key Dates:

• Entries Open – Wednesday 3 February

• Entries close – Friday 3 April

• Final judging – Saturday 11 April

• Finalists Announced – Monday 20 April

• Tickets on sale – Tuesday 21st April

• Heritage Lecture – Thursday 11 June

• Awards Ceremony – Friday 12 June

“The Town Hall story – a Christchurch dream renewed” (University Canterbury Press Media Release)

Christchurch’s proud tradition of public architecture is clear in one of the city’s favourite buildings – the Christchurch Town Hall. The city’s ‘public living room’ for hosting celebrations, concerts and civic events, the Town Hall reopened triumphantly this year after a successful campaign for its restoration.

Through the tortuous beginnings of the original project to the battle to save the complex after the earthquakes of 2010-11, a new book, published by Canterbury University Press, captures an intimate story of the Town Hall. It is fitting that former Associate Professor of Art History at UC Dr Ian Lochhead edited The Christchurch Town Hall 1965–2019: A dream renewed, since he was an early advocate of repairing and restoring the building, expressing his views in a piece titled ‘Let our public living room live again’ published in The Press on 20 March 2012.

When the facility opened to much fanfare and civic interest in 1972, the auditorium in particular was unlike anything seen in New Zealand before, Dr Lochhead explains. While Sir Miles Warren led the creative architectural team (establishing the reputation of Warren & Mahoney nationally), it was Sir Harold Marshall who was responsible for the world-class acoustics that changed the way concert halls around the world were designed from that point on.

The quality of Marshall’s acoustic design attracted performers of the calibre of Leonard Bernstein, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Carlos Santana and, just last month, renowned cellist YoYo Ma, and saw Christchurch recognised alongside the great concert halls of Vienna, Boston and Lucerne. The Philharmonie de Paris, which opened in 2015, took its design cues from the Christchurch Town Hall, to the extent that the French employed Marshall Day Acoustics, the practice established by Harold Marshall in 1981.  

Details such as this makes the book a treat for history lovers, architecture buffs and conservation advocates alike. The compelling story of the incredibly challenging restoration is recounted in chapters by Peter Marshall and John Hare and captured in photos by former UC photographer Duncan Shaw-Brown and by Olivia Spencer-Bower.   

UC returned to the Town Hall for its graduation ceremonies this year, one of many key Christchurch organisations to again use this much-loved space for their most important celebrations.

The Christchurch Town Hall 1965–2019: A dream renewed, edited by Dr Ian Lochhead, is available now in hardback edition (248pp, colour and B/W illustrations), RRP $59.99, ISBN: 978-1-98-850310-3.

Further information:

Ian Lochhead, Art History, photographed in his office, 19.2.14

Editor Ian Lochhead taught Art History at the University of Canterbury from 1981 to 2014. He has written extensively on the history of New Zealand architecture from the colonial period to the Christchurch School. His book, A Dream of Spires: Benjamin Mountfort and the Gothic Revival, was published by CUP in 1999. He was an early advocate for the restoration of the Christchurch Town Hall following the 2011 Canterbury earthquakes; his article ‘Let our public living room live again’, was published in The Press on 20 March 2012. The Society of Architectural Historians of Australia and New Zealand made him a life member in 2013.

Dr Lochhead Image: Duncan Shaw Brown


John Hare

Sir Harold Marshall

Peter Marshall

Martin Setchell

Sir Miles Warren


Duncan Shaw-Brown

Olivia Spencer-Bower