Scoop Election 08: edited by Gordon Campbell

On Criminalising Protest, and Christchurch Cathedral Options

April 9th, 2013

The Tauranga MP Simon Bridges – he’s also the Labour Minister and the Minister of Energy and Resources – is carving out quite a niche for himself, on the gratuitously petty side of Tory politics. First, we had his brushing aside of official advice to raise the minimum wage more substantially, and now we have his attempt to criminalise freedom of expression by restricting protests at sea.

Thanks to Bridges’ belated amendement to the Crown Minerals Bill, those protesters who get within 500 metres of seismic measuring vessels or mining operations can be jailed and fined significantly, and so can the organisation to which they belong, up to the level of $100,000. These draconian measures have been brought in to fix a non-existent problem – can Bridges point to an instance of oil or mining exploration at sea that was scrapped primarily because of protest action?

The Brazilian oil giant Petrobras for instance, pulled out of its East Cape exploration because of its own internal financing problems, not because of protest action. Which example of protest action can Bridges point to in order to justify this outlandish law – which is being pushed through without select committee scrutiny?

The prominent New Zealanders – including Sir Geoffrey Palmer and Dame Anne Salmond – who have banded together to oppose this legislation should be applauded. As Peter Williams QC pointed out on RNZ this morning the measures being contemplated are entirely to do with restricting the rights and the behaviour of protesters, with no balancing measures with respect to the obligations of oil and mining companies – who, as Williams says, could criminalise the protesters merely by sailing or flying close to them, as was done by the French during the anti-nuclear protests at Mururoa.

This is the kind of thing the Key government has done before. Over the Hobbit dispute as well, the current government was willing to infringe the rights of New Zealanders, in order to send an air kiss to foreign multinationals. Unfortunately, there seems to be no-one within the government ranks willing to challenge Bridges over this selling out of the democratic freedoms of expression. Isn’t the centre-right supposed to be the chmapion of such freedoms – or is it only interested in freedom that comes with a corporate cost/benefit analysis attached? Once the Act Party emerges from mourning over the death of Baroness Thatcher, perhaps it could turn its mind to honouring its supposed belief in individual liberties.


Cathedral Options

One of the really odd aspects of the unveiling of the three Cathedral replacement options in Christchurch last week was that there seemed to be only one “contemporary” design up for consideration. Ever since the earthquakes took their toll, we have been told how iconic the Cathedral is, and how symbolic it is of the city’s recovery. Therefore, shouldn’t there be at least some attempt – i.e. an architectural competition – to find the best contemporary design, rather than merely treating a single off-the-shelf design as the only contemporary design that’s deemed to be relevant?

So far, a large chunk of the Christchurch public have shown – in their responses to a number of unscientific polls – that they’re quite willing to consider a contemporary design. Predictably, the architectural critics here and overseas have been divided in their response to the contemporary design on offer, from Warren and Mahoney. Obviously, it is up to Christchurch people to decide whether they want an architectural competition to elicit further options. To that end, it may be helpful to see what other cities have considered, when building contemporary Cathedrals.

1. First, here’s the Warren and Mahoney design.

2. Those critics who have labelled the Warren and Mahoney design as “derivative” may well have had in mind the ( much-praised in architectural circles) Catholic Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland, California. Here are some images of that building, outside and inside. The similarity is fairly obvious:

3. For a daring and quite different example – and one best considered in relation to the new town hall built beside it – here is the Cathedral/Town Hall complex in Evry, France. Note the trees on the roof and the use of the space in front of the town/hall cathedral:

4. For a stunningly different design (exteriors and cross section here) we have the – as yet unbuilt – Axis Mundi suggested design for a new Cathedral in Strasbourg:

5. This cathedral in Houston Texas is an example of a very traditional design in modern guise:

6. And going back a bit to the 1920s, the Grundtvig church in Copenhagen offers a very, very distinctive re-interpretation of Gothic and neo-Gothic tradition:

7. The St Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco is a more modern, but still reasonably conservative option:

8. This interesting seven-towered example – the Santo Volto from Turin, Italy – is also worthy of note. Challenging on the outside, but with quite beautiful interiors, bathed in natural light from the distinctive skylights:

9. And finally, here is an example of how NOT to do it. Here’s the universally loathed new Liverpool Cathedral, a genuine monstrosity:


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    1. 8 Responses to “On Criminalising Protest, and Christchurch Cathedral Options”

    2. By david on Apr 9, 2013 | Reply

      Someone in National standing on principle rather than self interest – ha ha ha ha ha ha – we haven’t seen those types around here in a loooooooong time.

    3. By Andrew P Nichols on Apr 9, 2013 | Reply

      And finally, here is an example of how NOT to do it. Here’s the universally loathed new Liverpool Cathedral, a genuine monstrosity:

      Looks like Sauron’s spikey crown from LOTR!

    4. By Elizabeth Smyth on Apr 9, 2013 | Reply

      I get the feeling here in Christchurch, where many of us are still searching for our rebuilt homes, the feeling about the Cathedral is ” Hey you few Anglicans, do what you like” and ” Yes, that contemporary option looks kind of …ok”,( compared to the awful concrete slab tilt/ glass bunkers that are popping up around the city). However, when you show some examples of truly inspiring contemporary Cathedrals around the world, the idea of an architectural competition seems inspiring,. However, Warren and Mahoney and the Anglican Church here, are such best buddies,Im sure they will win hands down.

    5. By Delia on Apr 9, 2013 | Reply

      What is to stop the govt from banning all protest, if they can do this?

    6. By Mike on Apr 10, 2013 | Reply

      Gosh, the economy needs “protection”. Isn’t that supposed to be the sort of thing that National opposes? National dances to one tune, the Wall Street Shuffle, the bigger the bucks the bigger your rights. Everything is negotiable, including our laws and our sovereignty if the price is right.

    7. By Elyse on Apr 10, 2013 | Reply

      Seeing these monstrous buildings reminds me of my late father’s favourite saying; I have my own faith and I don’t need to go to church to practise it.

      Having been born and raised in CHCH I was always embarrassed that the centrepiece of the city was an Anglican cathedral. Christchurch could do with a name change.

    8. By Shona Duncan on Apr 19, 2013 | Reply

      When your government criminalises your democratic right to protest, you are obliged to shut down your government. Wrath.

    9. By Helen on Apr 19, 2013 | Reply

      The most ridiculous thing about the three options for the Christchurch Cathedral is that there are only three options.
      This is a propaganda exercise by the Anglican church in Christchurch. I tried to vote on the website for non of the options presented and couldn’t. There was also no field for comments.
      The are many more possibilities – I like Joe Bennett’s – just make it safe and leave it as the Earthquake memorial. There will need to be one and this would be a cheap option.
      Build a new cathedral somewhere else when the carboard one has had it’s day – 20 or 30 years to raise the funds.

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