Wellington cathedral shuts over quake safety concerns



RNZ rnz.co.nz

Concerns about earthquake risk have forced the immediate closure of a prominent Catholic cathedral in central Wellington.

The Metropolitan Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Wellington.

Source: Facebook

The 117-year-old Sacred Heart Cathedral is a category-one heritage listed building.

A peer review has been released of the detailed seismic assessment, which deemed it quake-prone.

That peer review said the cathedral met less than 15 per cent of the new building standard.

A rating under 34 per cent is classed as earthquake-prone under the code.

The parish said the decision to close was difficult and would come as a shock.

But it said it had to act because of the low rating.

In the meantime, all weekend masses would be held at St Mary's College Hall, while weekday masses would take place at Sacred Heart Cathedral School.

Source: Facebook / The Metropolitan Cathedral of the Sacred Heart

The parish said the cathedral would probably be closed for several years and strengthening would cost several million dollars.

It was now seeking local support and funding for the work.


November 2016 - Following the Kaikōura earthquake a rapid assessment by Dunning Thornton confirms that no significant damage has been found.

2017 - Parish commissions Dunning Thornton to undertake a DSA (Detailed Seismic Assessment) in two stages. Stage 1, completed in September 2017, confirms the building rating to be about 40 percent of NBS (New Building Standard) and identifies areas for further investigation as part of Stage 2.

8 May 2018 - Stage 2 Interim report identifies potential earthquake prone risk. Sacred Heart Cathedral School advised, and stops using cathedral complex and Connolly Hall.

25 May - DSA Results Summary confirms that due to deficiencies in detailing of ceiling diaphragms the cathedral rating is less than 33 percent of NBS (confirming earthquake prone rating). Peer review of the Dunning Thornton work commissioned.

3 July 2018 - Dunning Thornton full report received, and earthquake prone notification displayed.

11 July 2018 - Peer review received confirming earthquake status as less than 15 per cent of NBS.

12 July 2018 - Cathedral Finance committee recommend immediate closure until remedial work can bring the structure up to at least 33 per cent of NBS.

13 July 2018 - Cathedral complex closed.

loading error