This page records the story of Christchurch Cathedral from February 2011 as presented on the ANZAB website up until 2016.

From April 2023 it reports on progress on reconstruction of the Cathedral and, eventually, the bell tower.

Christchurch Cathedral Update, April 2023

Christchurch Cathedral Worksite

Christchurch Cathedral walls are undergoing strengthening. The steel buttrusses (see photo above) will be removed when this is completed. A sign on the worksite explains that this would be followed by work on the substructure. Reconstruction of the tower will not start until that is complete. The plans for the new tower (along with other information) is available here. The current timeline is for completion in Summer 2027-28.

Chris Oldham
18 April 2023

Before the 22 February 2011 earthquake.

Christchurch Earthquake, 22 February 2011

Christchurch, New Zealand, suffered significant loss of life and physical damage from an earthquake at 12:51pm, local time, on 22 February 2011 (= 23:51 UTC, 21 February 2011). The Cathedral was one of many buildings affected by the earthquake, and an unknown number of people have died within its walls.

Christchurch Cathedral - after the earthquake, 22 February 2011

image from

News, 2011-2016

December 2016. Decision on Christchurch Cathedral Delayed Further

Christchurch Cathedral, December 2016

A decison on the future of Christchurch Cathedral has been delayed until 2017. Follow this link to a report on Radio NZ, dated 22 December 2016.

The report includes footage obtained by a drone flying within the cathedral.

April 2012. Construction will soon begin on a cardboard cathedral to temporarily replace Christ Church Cathedral.

Christchurch Cardboard Cathedral
    Artist's impression of the Christchurch Cardboard Cathedral

Designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, the temporary cathedral's planned location is on the site of the former parish of St John's, at the corner of Hereford and Madras Streets. It is expected the 700-person-capacity structure will be completed by December 2012. Ban revealed his design last August, quoting the construction cost at $4 million.

Richard Gray, of the Transitional Cathedral Group, said the diocese had "the bulk of the money ... in hand but there will be further fundraising to meet the costs of building the temporary structure. This is a very exciting next step for the project. The transitional cathedral is a symbol of hope for the future of this city as well as being sustainable and affordable. The cathedral is confident it will attract interest nationally and internationally, drawing additional visitors to the city."

The innovative structure will comprise cardboard tubes, timber beams and structural steel. It will serve as a temporary cathedral until a new Christ Church Cathedral is constructed, and will then remain in place as St John's parish, whose church, vicarage and hall were demolished after the February 2011 earthquake. The diocese hopes it will also provide a venue for concerts, exhibitions, civic and community events.

Linked containers will sit alongside the cathedral to house a cafe, shop, meeting rooms, amenities and offices. Designed to last more than 20 years, it will be the largest "emergency structure" Ban has designed. He is known for his work in disaster zones, including Rwanda in 1994, Kobe after the 1995 quake, Turkey in 1999 and Haiti in 2011.

Here are links to the Christchurch Cathedral website announcement and more details of the project.

(source: Christchurch Cathedral press release)

Meanwhile, the Christchurch Cathedral Bellringers will consider a proposal to the Cathedral Authorities for bells to be included in the design of the newly announced Transitional Cathedral. Details of the proposal will be put before the bellringers at their AGM on 22nd May 2012.

We think that a self-contained ring is very much in the spirit of the design of the Transitional Cathedral which is to be constructed using cardboard tubes and containers. We hope to provide the ringers with a much needed reason to meet on a regular basis for ringing; an opportunity to keep the group together until a new permanent Cathedral exists and a chance to welcome worshippers to services again.

Nothing is certain at this stage, and we have a lot of work to do to put our plans into action. In time we would hope to be in a position to put our cathedral bells back into a new permanent structure.

We will be seeking donations to assist us in installing a ring at the Transitional Cathedral and later to restore our bells to the new permanent Cathedral. The ringers will be responsible for raising the majority of these funds from outside New Zealand as the insurance funds are limited and fund-raising is required for the Cathedral (the bellringers are not allowed to detract from that fund-raising). The Central Council is kindly handling donations on our behalf in sterling. Please go to their website for further details.

Planning is at an early stage but we will be keeping everyone up-to-date with any developments. We hope it may not be too long before we can welcome ringing visitors to a cathedral ring again in Christchurch.

(Anita Adams, for the Christchurch Bellringers)

11-13 November 2011

Christchurch ringers visit Sydney

Here is the link to a television report on the Christchurch bellringers’ visit to Sydney, filmed at St Mary’s.

And here is another link to clips on YouTube.

19 October 2011

Christchurch Cathedral, 19 October 2011

Christchurch Cathedral, 19 October 2011. Image courtesy Allison McMillan.

5 March 2011

It has been reported this morning that no bodies have been found in the rubble of Christchurch Cathedral Tower.

A number of the bells have been found intact, but with broken fittings on the ground beside the rubble.

[Below] is a photo, taken by the Dean, Peter Beck, of four of the bells. You can also see the belfry spanner and a pair of pliers on the kerb!

We have also been been offered the treble of the old ten, taken out in 1978, and apparently not broken up and melted down at the local bronze foundry at the time.

Mike Clayton (Master)

Four bells of Christchurch Cathedral lie amongst the rubble after the earthquake

Four bells of Christchurch Cathedral lie amongst the rubble after the earthquake
(image courtesy of Dean Peter Beck)

27 February 2011

From the ringers at Christchurch Cathedral

We are pleased to report that we are all safe and unharmed after the recent earthquake. You will know that the Cathedral has suffered serious damage, including the destruction of the top portion of the bell tower. As far as we can tell, the bells, or what remains of them, are in a pile of rubble inside the tower. We do not expect to be able to make any inspection soon as the Central Business District is closed and will remain so for some time.

Some of you have offered financial support and for this we are most grateful. Once we are able to do so we will be setting up a channel for these donations and we ask you to retain them until then.

In the meantime to the many people who have sent us supporting messages thank you so much. These messages are a real help and comfort to us and are much appreciated.

We are keeping in touch with everyone via the Internet and it has been good to be able to distribute these messages to everyone.

Mike Clayton (Master) and Mandy Spearing (Deputy Master)

From Papanui

I just want to report that all of the ringers at Papanui are safe and well.

The church is still standing. The tower appears outwardly intact. The organ lost a couple of pipes (again!), but the warden just pops them back in I think.

We will wait until a structural engineer has inspected the church and tower before we enter to do our post EQ inspection of bell frame and tower frame. Then we will chime, ring up, ring 5, then 6, then the 8. I daresay we will wobble somewhat more than we used to!

The priority in town is to preserve life and property, establish homes, and to reconnect water, electricity and sewerage so we will 'sit on our hands' as far as the tower is concerned until the engineer come to visit us. Watch this space for more news.

Robbie Richards (Master)

26 February 2011

We have a group email going among the Christchurch ringers. Please send messages of support to it via me.

Anita Adams

from the President and Executive of ANZAB

Thankfully we have been in regular contact with our friends in Christchurch since the dreadful tragedy unfolded on Tuesday morning. Anita Adams has asked people to keep sending individual emails to the ringers as they are a great emotional support.

We offer our heartfelt sentiments to the ringers, their families and friends as they cope with the devastation and the daunting task ahead of restoring their lives and community. We can assure them that their friends in ANZAB look forward to being able to support them over the coming months.

Julie Doyle

24 February 2011

Mandy [Spearing] and I have worked on ensuring all the Christchurch ringers are safe and accounted for and not just on general hearsay and we are pretty confident all safe. Mandy tells me all the Papanui ringers are safe.

Anita Adams

22 February 2011, on the afternoon of the earthquake

"Yes, [I'm ok] standing on the street with one shoe missing and getting the text from Chris [Oldham] saying [he was] ok but Cathedral has fallen was mixed with relief for Chris but a huge shock to hear the Cathedral had gone, was very hard - that is my family. It would be good if you could send a message to all saying the bellringers are all safe."

Anita Adams

The Christchurch ringers are OUR FAMILY too.


Links, 2011-2016

Read about the announcement of the Cathedral's deconstruction, and the subsequent reaction - Christ Church Cathedral condemned - The Press, 2 March 2012.

"Christchurch Cathedral is to be deconsecrated ahead of partial demolition. The Cathedral will be partially demolished with its remains incorporated into a modern new cathedral, senior church figures revealed today." New-look Christ Church Cathedral planned - NZ Herald, 28 October 2011.

Radio New Zealand National - an audio report by Kim Griggs - 18 March 2011

Radio New Zealand National - 'The Panel', 1 March 2011, audio - especially minutes 7 to 9

Remembering loved ones lost in Christchurch - an article by Vicki Anderson, 1 March 2011, referred to in the link above

More images - Christchurch Cathedral website

"Cathedral Dean devastated by human cost" - link to a news report.

Christchurch Ringers page

Postcards from the Bells, 2012-2014

A bell tower ladder

Image © Andrew Treloar, 2006