Taranaki Real Estate agent Robert Angus is one of the first substantial donors of The Cathedral Project. His association with St Mary’s spans a lifetime – he was baptised and confirmed in the historic church, and recalls his whole family attending services over decades. Recently his Mum Avis Angus was the key link, remembers Robert. “She was always giving to St Mary’s and loved and celebrated the church life. Dad was dragged along sometimes.” Says Robert. “It was a great community for her especially in her old age and she enjoyed that fellowship. It certainly impacted on my feelings for the church.” When Avis died, The Revd Canon Pastor Bill Marsh officiated at her funeral service, providing a great link between the church and the family.

These days, Robert believes that those involved in The Cathedral Project are strengthening a fantastic community in terms of promoting the value of the building in a national – international way. “Already the building is iconic and the surroundings make it that way from the trees to the headstones that span our city’s history.” A reopened, earthquake strengthened, welcoming cathedral building can only add to New Plymouth’s existing visitor attractions. Ensuring the whole city is appealing will attract both tourists and permanent residents, he says.“We have lots of symbols that say to people ‘let’s go to New Plymouth’ because there’s the Wind Wand, the café society, Len Lye, Pukekura Park, Womad, Arts Festival – these are great drawcards not to forget the mountain, walkway and the ocean. Now we have another venture that has solidarity and a good business plan to promote suitable development. So I think, all round, it’s wonderful to support it. “I think there will be a groundswell of support for The Cathedral Project because of the flexibility intended once the building reopens.” He’s very enthusiastic about the idea that a range of events could be held inside St Mary’s (everything he says from a rock opera ensemble to an art exhibition) and sees that as a way to draw wider numbers of people into its historic interior.