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The Influencers: Scott Thelning


Principal Cathedral Grammar

Foresight and fortitude – sowing the seeds of hard work and reaping the fruits of success.

COVID-19 has created, once again, challenging times for our city, and this brings with it a mix of emotions.

For me, I am grateful for the foresight held by a team of governors whom some years ago set the pathway forward for our school to evolve, adapt and embrace a way of thinking that would prepare our students and staff for an ever changing world.

Through this transition period as a school, there were, as there inevitably will be, challengers and challenges to this way of thinking.

I am thankful for the fortitude of our staff for staying to the course and ensuring what is best for students, their learning, and their future was at the heart of the matter.

When the lockdown was announced, our team was ready and delivered superbly in a time of need.

The vision and strategy developed, coupled with a great team of skilled, open minded and solution focussed teachers, enabled our school to respond quickly and create and deliver a high quality and structured remote learning programme for our community.

It is through these difficult times, that as organisations our business models and cultures are truly tested.

All aspects are placed under the spotlight as we grapple with the financial and employment implications, together with the wellbeing of our people and the ability to adapt and innovate.

Success comes in many forms. For us, foresight, fortitude and agility have been key.


Cathedral Work Symbolises City’s Strength

The sound of tools at work will shortly echo from Christ Church Cathedral – a solid symbol of our community’s resilient strength.



Prior to lockdown, the Christ Church Cathedral Reinstatement Project was at its busiest, with physical work scheduled for early April.

The pause button was hit, but now the project is again ramping up.

Creating a clear pathway to start the project was the task for the last 14 months, spent working out the best solutions for the complex reinstatement with Warren and Mahoney architects, Naylor Love’s construction specialists and structural engineers, Holmes Consulting.

During lockdown the tight team continued to work remotely, so it could hit the ground running as soon as the lockdown guidelines allowed construction to begin.

“It is an amalgamation of getting the work done as quickly, cost effectively and safely as possible,” Project Director Keith Paterson says.

“The work won’t be disruptive to the CBD, with a maximum of between 40 and 50 specialists working at any one time. This makes it easier for social distancing and other safety precautions too.

“Nothing is more important than people’s health and safety, and this will always be our number one priority. Special requirements will be in place to manage worker health and safety while we continue to manage COVID-19.”

Importantly, local workers will be used where they can, he says.

“It was always a locally resourced project with work done by hand by specialist stonemasons. We have retained much of the original stone.

“Many parts of the cathedral are to be deconstructed and put back together – just like a jigsaw. It will look very similar to what it always did, with as much heritage value saved as possible, but with many improvements.”

Senior Project Manager Tim Anthon says a frame will first be set up around the building and then covered up, for weather-proofing and to prevent access for the long-residing pigeons!

The steel framing to be used in areas such as the Rose window needed absolute precision – it was a material that couldn’t be stretched.

“It is a completely different sort of build, estimated to take up to eight years to complete, and this is consistent with similar cathedrals and heritage buildings around the world,” he says.

The north side will be set up primarily for vehicle access.

On the western fencing there will be an in-depth public information area where people can get an understanding of the history and heritage, and watch the progress via viewing portals.

Prince Charles became the Cathedral’s Royal Patron during his visit in November and said it was his dearest wish for the cathedral to become a proud symbol of the city once more.

There was an important site and worker blessing on 12 May, which marked the beginning of the project’s exhilarating journey.

“As the sun rose we asked God to bless everyone working on the project and the cathedral site; it was deeply moving,” Anglican Bishop of Christchurch, Peter Carrell says.

“Physical work will get underway soon and there is a palpable sense of excitement.”

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New cathedral for city centre

Following an earlier decision not to rebuild the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament on Barbadoes Street, a new Catholic cathedral will be built in the centre of the city, adjacent to Victoria Square.



As well as the new cathedral, a pastoral centre/community hub, the new St Mary’s Primary School, offices for the Catholic Diocese and residential accommodation for clergy, plus a multi-storey carpark building, will also be built on the site bordered by Armagh Street, Colombo Street, Cambridge Terrace and Manchester Street.

The Catholic Bishop of Christchurch, Paul Martin, says the adjoining community hub will involve the wider public in a variety of activities and provide much-needed social services.

“It is my desire for the cathedral to be in the heart of the city, where our Catholic community can visit on a daily basis to pray and reflect, and for the church to be able to play a part in re-energising the life of the city.”

The cathedral is expected to be able to accommodate up to 1000 people and could be completed by 2025.

It is expected to cost $85 million for the Cathedral, $11 million for the primary school and $30 million for the diocesan share of the joint venture with the Carter Group for the pastoral centre, offices and clergy accommodation, plus the 600-vehicle carpark building.

There is $45 million set aside from the earthquake insurance claim with the remaining funding to be met by both fundraising and the sale of excess property and assets.