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Uncertain future . . . Waiau’s All Saints Church remains off limits, following November’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake. PHOTO: ROBYN BRISTOW

By DAVID HILL

The congregation of Waiau’s All Saints Church is facing a $1.2 million repair bill, with no insurance.

A public meeting has been called for 7.30pm on Wednesday, May 31, in the Waiau Community Hall to discuss the historic stone church’s future, but Amuri Co-operating Parish minister Colin Price says the parish is facing the prospect of “a total financial loss” following November’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake.

Mr Price says the parish has received an engineering report on the Anglican-owned church building, which presents options from complete restoration to “salvaging what we can”.

“It’s all complicated by the fact we don’t have natural disaster insurance, so we are faced with a total financial loss.

“It’s a group policy through the (Anglican) Church Property Trust (CPT) and natural disaster insurance was seen as cost prohibitive.”

While the parish has yet to get quote for the cost of restoration, Mr Price estimated it would be at least $1.2 million.

“We don’t have the reserves to even contemplate it.”

Next week’s meeting is an opportunity to “share with the wider community what the engineers have said and what options there are”, Mr Price says.

It will be the first of many conversations, as the CPT (the building owner) and the Presbyterian Church (as the other partner in the co-operating parish) will both have a say in the building’s future.

As the building has heritage status, Heritage New Zealand would also need to be consulted, Mr Price says.

The church hall is moderately damaged and repairable.

“The hall could have possibilities as it has been used by community groups and a lot of the public buildings in Waiau have question marks, but we have to consider the new building codes.”

In the meantime, the congregation is holding monthly services in the Waiau Community Hall.

“At the end of the day church is more than bricks and mortar, it is a group of people.” Mr Price says.

“We have received some incredible support from individuals, organisations and churches.”

The Amuri Co-operating Parish also has congregations and buildings in Culverden and Rotherham.

When the Waiau Anglican and Presbyterian congregations amalgamated around 15 years ago, they opted to retain the All Saints Church building, while the wooden Presbyterian church building was moved to Waiau’s historical precinct and the site on the corner of Leslie and Clarence Streets remained vacant.

Mr Price says the parish “had thoughts of using the land for social housing”, but nothing eventuated. However, after the earthquake it was approached by the Ministry of Building, Innovation and Employment to buy the land for a temporary village and now four houses will be relocated to it from New Brighton’s Rawhiti Village.