by MICHAEL OTTO
AUCKLAND — St Patrick’s Cathedral in Auckland is now illuminated at night, thanks to new external lighting.
The lights were switched on at a short ceremony on September 11, attended by the Bishop of Auckland, Bishop Patrick Dunn, Auckland Mayor Len Brown, cathedral administrator Msgr Bernard Kiely, former cathedral administrator Msgr Brian Arahill, dignitaries and parishioners.
Although it was planned to be in St Patrick’s Square adjacent to the cathedral, the ceremony was held under the verandah of a nearby building on Wyndham St because of persistent rain.
St Patrick’s Cathedral Heritage Foundation chairman Gregory Shanahan told the gathering that the lighting is the “icing that the city is putting on the cake”.
Paid for by Auckland City Council, the lighting completes the second stage of the St Patrick’s Cathedral and Precinct Conservation and Development Project.
The cathedral was reopened in September 2007 after a $12.8 million refurbishment, which was the first stage of the project.
In the second stage, St Patrick’s Square, next to the cathedral, has undergone a $9.2 million upgrade, paid for by the council and funded by a targeted rate.
Reopened in 2009, the “urban oasis” has water features, artworks, renewed paving, seating areas and grass.
Mr Shanahan thanked the Auckland council for redeveloping the square, adding that thousands of people visit the cathedral each week. It is a “place that is alive and throbbing with life”, he said.
Mr Brown said the council was pleased to redevelop the square, calling the whole precinct “a fabulous place”. It is the only green space between mid-city and the waterfront.
In his homily at Mass before the switch-on ceremony, Bishop Dunn said the lighting would highlight the fact that the cathedral is an “icon of Christ” in the city.
All speakers made reference to the date being the 10th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States. A minute’s silence was held to acknowledge those events.
Msgr Kiely noted that the next day would be 10 years to the day since the Church presented its vision for the redevelopment to the old Auckland City Council.
Due to budget constraints, the external lighting of the cathedral, a category 1 heritage building, was not in the original square upgrade.
But strong lobbying by bodies like the CBD Board, Heart of the City and the local Residents’ Advisory Group meant the external lighting was not forgotten about, funds were found by the council and works started in the second week of August.
Msgr Kiely expressed his gratitude to these groups for their determination and advocacy for finishing the square
upgrade as per its original plan.
by MICHAEL OTTO