The International Catholic Programme of Evangelisation (ICPE) has a 2027 deadline for earthquake-strengthening St Gerard’s Church and Monastery. This could cost an estimated $20 million.
To raise money towards this cost, the ICPE want to sell land they own at 1 Oriental Terrace. In order to enlarge this site, they have asked the Wellington City Council to allow the exchange of a strip of land right next door to the monastery with a Council-owned pathway which runs between that strip and 1 Oriental Terrace. On this site stands a historic old house.
With a larger site and the old house demolished, a property developer would be able to build a multi-storey building which could block iconic views of the Monastery. This was the main objection made to a WCC Environment Committee hearing in February by Maurice Clark and Judith Doyle, representing Oriental Bay Residents’ Association.
Developer Maurice Clark also strongly emphasised the need for adequate space around the monastery building to allow earthquake strengthening to be done. A large development built close to the monastery would not leave sufficient space for the job.
Amongst the other submitters at the hearing was Marian Evans who lives in Oriental Terrace below the Monastery. She has researched the reserve and the old house at No 1, and believes the house was built by carpenter Joseph Leadbetter in 1897 – hence its nickname of Joe’s Place. “It backs on to St Gerard’s park on the promontory in front of the monastery, Wellington’s most beautiful small reserve. Its red roof and chimney disrupt views of and from the park and down the zigzag reserve, but it contributes strongly to the little upper Oriental Terrace enclave,” she writes.
Marian Evans has researched the original plans of the house. She discovered that lots of totara and red pine/rimu was used to build No 1; the floors are all 6 x 1-inch matai/black pine. The specs are very detailed. For example, the chimney’s brickwork was ‘to be executed with sound hard-burnt bricks laid in well-made mortar, the foundation to be laid on a solid hard surface. To chimney openings, insert a wrought-iron chimney bar 21⁄2 wide by 3/8 of an inch thick, the bars to have 4 1⁄2-inch bearing, and to be turned up and down at the ends’.