CHRISTCHURCH — On the Nazareth House site in Christchurch there’s a lot of space, a digger and truck amid remaining rubble and the 1939 Chapel of the Holy Family still standing tall.
Nazareth House, which provided care for the elderly, was severely damaged in the Christchurch earthquakes.
But the property is a demolition site with a difference. Paul King of Graceworks Demolition and Recycling, who won the contract and has spent six weeks with Arrow International on site, has donated two of the buildings to the Woodend Christian Camp, which has long needed accommodation for disabled people.
The oratory in the main block was deconstructed and delivered to the camp, followed days later by the top of the convent containing six ensuite bedrooms, lounge and laundry. New Zealand Building Relocators took two hours to lift this top storey and another three to deliver it overnight. The lower story has been demolished.

Paul King on the Nazareth House site.

The Nazareth Sister in charge, Sr Marie Townsend said, “We are delighted that Mr King has generously donated part of our former convent and the oratory to the Woodend Christian Camp”.
The Nazareth Sisters have moved into a temporary Versatile-built convent on the back of the property and are committed to remaining in Christchurch. Plans are under way for a new aged-care facility to replace the badly damaged 1987 complex, which catered for 80 residents.
For Mr King this is part of his everyday life. “God has given me this business; it’s up to me to use the materials we have. If I choose to give it away or sell it, it doesn’t really matter, it’s business. God has really looked after us. . . . For 13 years our focus has been on God and giving: The more we give the more he gives to us.”
A base of strong Christians amongst his eight staff enables him to take on workers “from really bad backgrounds”. They begin to change because of who they work with and Mr King encourages new education such as first aid courses, attaining truck licences and the use of the diggers. If they show skill he will encourage them to follow it. “Demolition is not for everyone. It’s hard on your body and hard on your mind.”
For many years a member of Rangiora Baptist church, which is now celebrating 150 years, Mr King has a background he’s not afraid to admit, including time in prison, so that he knows where these workers are at. At 26 he decided to give God a go. “I said ‘If you’re real, show me’. I ended up building big homes and then I fell into demolition.”
But his real love is deconstruction and recycling.
On site still is a central Christchurch rarity, a stone church. Sadly, it has to go, but many parts will be recycled, such as the untouched stained glass windows. Mr King said he wishes to continue what the Nazareth Sisters do — caring in the community.