Cathedral timber stands tall againKEITH LYNCH
Last updated 05:00 16/03/2011
DON SCOTT/The Press
Australian rescue teams have presented the people of Christchurch with a wooden cross and bench fashioned from material salvaged from the badly damaged Christ Church Cathedral.
At a ceremony in Latimer Square, where the Australian and other international urban search and rescue team were based, the items were formally presented to the Dean of the Cathedral, the Very Rev Peter Beck.
Beck gave Australian teams permission to use some of the wood from the ruined cathedral in Christchurch city centre.
After a Maori greeting, ferns were placed on the bench, amid a backdrop of emergency vehicles and diggers driving through the badly hit city.
"My heart is full of tears, tears of grief and sadness. And also tears of thanksgiving for you guys and many other who have come to our city to help us. You are amazing and thank you," Beck said at the ceremony in a wet and windy Latimer Square yesterday.
He said the the bench and cross was a symbol of a new beginning and "rebirth of the city".
Top fire officials from Australia were also present including Queensland Fire Commissioner Lee Johnson, who said, "I don't know what it is about 2011 but I'm waiting for it to end I assure you."
Superintendent Paul McGuiggan, of the New South Wales Fire Rescue team, said the teams worked on the bench and cross after they downed tools for the day.
"There was no television. There was no Foxtel getting beamed in here so that was how they were keeping themselves active."
He said rescue workers also wanted to give something to the people of the quake-hit city and commemorate their own efforts.
The wood was prepared locally, and the bench was placed in the ground in Latimer Square on Monday.
The cross would be stored at Christ's College for the time being, McGuiggan said.
The Australian team were preparing to leave Latimer Square yesterday, before flying back home today and Thursday.
After the ceremony, Beck said, "They [the items] are a sign of hope, a sense of `We can get through this'. We will actually be able to rebuild and regrow again. It's a symbol and sign of our togetherness as brothers and sisters across the ditch.
"So, see that very beautiful bench is a sign of the beauty of the building we're going to rebuild and also of the commitment and love of our mates across the Tasman."