Taranaki Cathedral’s $15 million earthquake strengthening and Cathedral precinct development have received a welcome funding boost from the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund (PGF).
Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones visited Taranaki Cathedral on Friday 6 April where he announced the Government has decided to invest up to $5 million toward the project.
“The Taranaki Cathedral has been at the centre of nationally important history and is rich with artefacts and stories,” said Mr Jones in New Plymouth on Friday.
“It has acted as a garrison and a centre of peace and once restoration is complete, New Zealand’s oldest stone church will offer visitors, both local and international, a rich and immersive experience.
“It will showcase the sometimes turbulent story of European settlement in Taranaki and the relationship between Maori and Pakeha over 175 years.”
“This is a fantastic boost that gives some certainty to the future of our historic Cathedral, said Taranaki Cathedral Dean Peter Beck.
“Our priority is that this will be a place where our heritage and story from 1846 is acknowledged and told, as part of our commitment to peace and reconciliation between all peoples.”
The Taranaki Cathedral project will remediate and upgrade the Cathedral to make it a more flexible worship space and also accommodate the arts, music, drama and other events.
The cathedral site will be enhanced by a world-class atrium welcoming space for community events, which will be dedicated in honour of former Governor-General and first Māori archbishop of the Anglican Church, the Most Rev Sir Paul Reeves.
Once completed, the new Taranaki Cathedral complex is intended to provide another feature in Taranaki’s reputation as a popular tourist destination. Alongside the remediated and upgraded Cathedral, it will provide an educational and interpretative historical experience through displays, audio visual guides and multimedia resources.
It is estimated that the new Taranaki Cathedral precinct will draw more than 64,000 domestic visitors annually, 10,000 international visitors and contribute approx $7.3 million to the regional economy.
“As well as being a place of worship, and a welcoming space, we believe this new development will speak of peace and reconciliation in a way that points to the unique significance of Parihaka, and model the shape of a bicultural partnership going forward,” said Dean Peter Beck.
Taranaki Cathedral has been closed for earthquake strengthening since February 2016 and a fundraising project, The Cathedral Project, has been established and started fundraising.
The Taranaki Cathedral parish has set a target of raising at least $2 million itself.
The Cathedral Project remediation and design manager Jenny Goddard said engineering, building, and conservation assessments and plans were well under way and would now accelerate with the new funding. The development project also incorporates the adjacent wooden vicarage, built in 1899.