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Wellington cathedral to receive $8.5 million for restoration and strengthening

Updated: Sep 23, 2020

A Wellington cathedral is to receive $8.5 million in Government funding from the “shovel ready” infrastructure fund.

The Sacred Heart Catholic Cathedral in Hill St, Thorndon, has been closed since 2018, and the money will go towards restoring and earthquake strengthening the building.

The funding will create almost 300 construction jobs and Archbishop of Wellington Cardinal John Dew said the money would enable them to not only complete the strengthening to a high standard but allow for base isolation as well.

“We thought we would never be able to do that, but we decided that we would apply to the shovel ready project.”

The church had independently raised $3.3 million so far, and the additional $8.5m brought them closer to their goal of $16m.

In May, it received a one-off contribution from the Wellington City Council’s Built Heritage Incentive Fund.

Archdiocese general manager John Prendergast said the latest funding was “wonderful news” for their project.

There had been a cathedral on the side since 1851, even before Parliament was built across the road, but the original cathedral burnt down in 1898.

The new one opened in 1901, not as a cathedral, but as a parish church, and was claimed for the Catholic Church in 1983 by Dew’s predecessor.

The community had been using St Theresa’s in Karori, and the smaller parish on the site for weekday mass.

“I think it will be a wonderful relief for people to be able to come back,” Prendergast said.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said the restoration was expected to take about three years.

The funding f came from the $3 billion tagged contingency set aside in the Budget for infrastructure.

Other Wellington projects to receive funding were the Wellington District Court refurbishment ($14m), the Hood Aerodrome upgrade in Masterton ($10m) and the revamp of the Masterton skatepark ($1.3m).

In total, about $185m had been allocated to the Wellington region.

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