Former Wigram MP Jim Anderton has welcomed the city council's call to halt demolition of the Christ Church Cathedral and urges supporters to join a protest march this month.
Yesterday, the Christchurch City Council asked for an "immediate pause" in the cathedral's demolition.
After a lengthy debate, councillors voted 10-4 to call for a halt to demolition while "deeper and more open consideration" of restoration plans took place.
Anderton told Radio New Zealand it was a "moral victory". He said the Anglican Church was being "arrogant" and needed to have a genuine discussion with the people of Christchurch.
Anderton is helping organise a rally on Saturday, May 26, where supporters will march from Cranmer Square to Worcester St - the closest spot the public can get to the cathedral.
He hoped hundreds of people would turn up in support.
'Deeply insulting', says Brownlee
However, Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said the call for a demolition half was "deeply insulting".
Brownlee said he would not intervene and rejected the council's statement that more work was needed to determine whether the cathedral could be saved.
"I think that it is deeply insulting to the Anglican Church, who have gone about this in a deeply methodical and constructive way," Brownlee said.
Deconstruction work would be done in a "very sensitive manner" and could take up to a year, he said.
"That doesn't smack to me of the wrecking ball going in there and bulldozers coming along," he said.
"I think some people out there who are making these claims need to draw a bit of breath."
The council's request to halt demolition received a muted response from Anglican officials.
A spokeswoman for the Anglican diocese said demolition had already been stopped until mid-June. The pause is to prepare for the remainder of the work.
The diocese had to comply with the safety requirements of a demolition notice issued by the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) while there was a danger of aftershocks, the spokeswoman said.
"Even the ongoing demolition of buildings around the cathedral is causing the ground to shake and more damage to occur."
The diocese's priorities were safety and the retrieval of heritage items from the cathedral, she said.
Councillors will send a letter to the diocese, Brownlee and Cera informing them of the vote. Cr Helen Broughton, who issued the call for the pause, said the diocese needed to explore every option to save the cathedral.
"It holds an important place in the hearts and psyches of Christchurch residents, and restoration appears possible," she said
"There is a passion for a deeper conversation about the cathedral," she said.Cr Claudia Reid said the council could not tell Anglican leaders what to do, but they had a duty to speak out on behalf of the city's residents.
Cr Aaron Keown said councillors would be judged on whether they had done enough to save the cathedral.
"If I'm asked, `Were you part of the council that demolished the cathedral?', I'll say that yes, I was, and I was ashamed," he said.
"I will use that word and I will be ashamed – for the rest of my life."
Cr Peter Beck, who served as the cathedral's dean for nine years, was among those who opposed halting demolition.
He said the diocese had been "misrepresented in many ways" and he supported the process it had gone through before announcing the demolition.
"They've been agonising over this issue and they've used very clear and careful advice from experts to make those decisions."
The city needed to focus on a new cathedral rather than dwelling on the current one, he said.
Mayor Bob Parker voted against the motion, saying council intervention would be a "distortion" of the process that Anglican leaders had gone through.
An initial attempt to investigate the council's legal options to halt the demolition failed after seven councillors voted each way, resulting in a deadlock.
Restore Christ Church Cathedral spokesman Mark Belton said the group was "thrilled" with the council's decision.
He hoped the council vote would convince the Government to intervene.
"This sends a message up the line that the Government would be foolish not to take heed of," he said.
HOW THEY VOTED