Tena tatou katoa
Prime Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Having visited Christchurch not long after the terrible disaster that this city suffered eight years ago, I realize only too well that the earthquakes which struck the Canterbury region at the start of the decade dealt the cruellest of blows to this community and to so many things that you held dear. Lives were lost or changed forever, and your landscape and built environment were dramatically affected too.
There is, perhaps, no more potent symbol of that loss than Christ Church Cathedral which, for over a century, stood as a proud and cherished emblem of the city whose name it shares. The damage caused to the Cathedral, particularly by the February 2011 earthquake, was utterly catastrophic and its desperately sad disfigurement is a moving reminder of so much that was lost.
Now, I know it has not been easy to write the next chapter of the Cathedral’s story, and to decide between the various options put forward for its future. However, I am delighted that, together, the Anglican Church, central and local government and the wider community have chosen to reinstate the Cathedral and to return this very special building to its former glory.
I was most touched, therefore, to have been asked by the Christ Church Cathedral Reinstatement Trust to become their Patron, and to play whatever small part I can in securing the future of this treasured piece of New Zealand’s built heritage. It is my dearest wish that the Cathedral might once more become a proud symbol of this city and of the remarkable resilience of this community.
Now, the Reinstatement of the Cathedral is, clearly, a complex and ambitious project which will draw on the talents and energy of a very large number of skilled and dedicated people. I very much hope that in various ways my Prince’s Foundation not only might be able to assist this project by sharing some of the lessons it has learnt over many years of working on heritage restoration projects and in preserving traditional crafts and skills, but that my Prince’s Trust New Zealand, which I set up to help create personal development, employment and enterprise start-up opportunities for young people in this country, might also be able to collaborate with the Christ Church Cathedral Reinstatement Trust to establish apprenticeships and skills-training - so that the legacy of this project might equally be seen in the skills and experience of a new generation of craftspeople and artisans.
Above all, Ladies and Gentlemen, I wanted to thank all of you for being here today and for offering your support to this project in so many ways. This is just the beginning, of course, and a great deal of hard work lies ahead. I can only say how proud I am to be joining you all on this journey, and how much I look forward to the day, if I am still alive by then, when the cathedral bells ring out once more, and welcome home the first bar-tailed godwits of Spring.
Kia kaha ki a tātou katoa
Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa.