Historic places

I’ve been thinking a lot about historic places lately. As you do, when you live in Christchurch. I was shocked when I heard that the spire of the Christchurch Cathedral had come down, and that the building was badly damaged, possibly beyond repair. It is Christchurch’s most iconic building.

Christchurch Cathedral
Christchurch Cathedral

But then as it sunk in, I reflected that I didn’t mind so much if it wasn’t there any more. Part of me thought, “good, let’s move on”. The church is a part of our past, a very important one. But to be completely honest, I wouldn’t mind if it wasn’t part of my future city. I know that many many people disagree with this, but I always thought it was ugly. I think we can do better.

And when I look around at some of the other buildings that are going or gone, I feel the same way. They were draughty, un-green, impractical, dangerous buildings. Beautiful to look at, but not really all that much fun to live or work in. Need a new data cable or air conditioning unit? No worries, you’ll just need to drill through half a metre of double-brick. Brick, as it turns out, that wasn’t as sturdy as it looked. Trying to get out of one of those old buildings when your life depends on it is worryingly difficult.

Christchurch Basilica
Christchurch Basilica


I do feel sad about the loss of some of the buildings. The Christchurch Basilica brought tears to my eyes. But every time I read about the tragic destruction of these old buildings, and how we have to save them no matter what the cost, I can’t help thinking, “why?”

They are part of our heritage, but then so are a lot of things. When my Nana died, I had to let her go. She’s no less part of my history and I’ll always remember her, but I had to move on. I found new people to admire. People who shape the future me. I think we should to the same with our buildings.

Document them, remember them, but now they are dead, let them be gone. Grieve for them, and then let’s move on. We’ve got a city to rebuild.

3 thoughts on “Historic places

  1. Annette Quinn November 20, 2011 / 9:02 PM

    You are so right Bebe. I also believe that it is absolutely ridiculous to spend so much money saving old buildings. The church I worshiped at St Johns Latimer Square was cold in the winter, was not big enough to house our whole congregation and was past its use-by date. These are only buildings and we are now worshipping at Marihau High which is great and has made no difference at all except we are warm in the winter and can worship as a congregation on one site. As you say people die so why not old buildings? It make me wonder what people actually worship, buildings or God. I look forward to a brighter better city which will become the heritage of this generation and those who are to come. Just look at Cashel Mall. What a joy it is to walk through those container shops and feel the spirit of the people.

  2. aunty November 21, 2011 / 10:23 AM

    I loved the cathedral and will miss it terribly. To me it was ” Christchurch ” Christmas will not be the same without a visit to the cathedral with my children Anzac day also had a special feeling celebrated in our cathedral. Although Anglican I feel it belonged to all of Christchurch. I will always feel the loss deeply. But if I am in the minority so be it

  3. Mama Bear November 21, 2011 / 11:12 AM

    Totally agree with you Bebe and Annette. The past is the past and now we can build a safer environment in all aspects for our future generations…a city of the future. The old buildings etc are but memories of what has been before us, documented for history. They are material, lives are the important factor. How lucky will we be to have such a safe city for our children.

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