5 November 2015

From Design to Reality

During the past twelve months the Cathedral project has progressed from design to reality. The ground works are complete, grass is sown and the majority of the trees are planted. The subcommittee charged with bringing this exciting project to fruition has been meeting on a regular basis during the past year.

The design work by American landscape architects Nelson, Byrd and Woltz (NBW) was completed in 2014 through funding from ECT and the Eastwoodhill Friends fundraising activities. The Gisborne District Council also provided a grant covering the survey costs and the clearing of unwanted trees and weeds. Importantly, this grant indicated the Gisborne Council’s support of this project.

Once the levels and alignment were established, Kerry Teutenberg and his team started the massive task of creating the cross-shaped raised platform – 170m long and 70m wide – the dimensions of Westminster Abbey. Raising the level of the site ensures it is very well drained. This is essential to encourage the even growth of the trees that will form the shape of the Cathedral, and ensures that the Cathedral can be used for ceremonies or functions at any time of year.

The ground work was completed by the end of February and the grass seed sown just before Cyclone Pam hit the Gisborne region. While rainfall during the cyclone was less than expected, it was just what was needed to germinate and test the drainage. We would like to acknowledge the assistance given by Mark McLean, a neighbouring farmer and a member of the Friends of Eastwoodhill. Mark assisted us with various jobs in the important initial stages of the project. Funding to cover the major ground work was provided by the J N Williams Memorial Trust and ECT, and we are most grateful for this support.

The planning committee devoted much time to discussing the most suitable trees to plant. We eventually settled on Sequoia sempervirens or coastal redwoods to form the aisle and cross. Outside these will be a line of Tilia platyphyllos or large-leafed limes. The two small chapels on either side, beyond the cross, will be outlined with Gingko biloba. The sanctuary at the North end, which is a continuation of the main aisle, will be flanked with Metasequoia or dawn redwood with a selection of deciduous trees featuring striking Autumn colour. All the trees have been generously donated, and we would like to thank Appletons Tree Nursery for the Tilia, and NZ Redwoods for the redwoods.

A ceremony was held on Arbour Day to bless the Cathedral site. Many of the different religious organisations were present and each took the opportunity to add their own blessing upon the site.
This large project has put extra pressure on the Eastwoodhill staff with curator Dan Haliday arriving just as work started in the New Year. Both Maurice and James have also been heavily involved. Everyone has gone out of their way to assist on this project, and their enthusiasm for the Cathedral will ensure its success.

I would also like to acknowledge the Cathedral subcommittee – Board members Marcus Williams and Prue Roberts, Curator Dan Haliday, Lee Newman, Paul Pollock and Rodney Faulkner.