Christchurch church to reopen for first time since 2011 quake

For more than 300 Sundays St Barnabas church has been off limits for parishioners, after being damaged and deemed unsafe since the 2011 Christchurch earthquake.

"It's been six years and we had high hopes initially in the first wee while of getting the church repaired and up and running, but the whole process has taken much longer," Rev Mark Chamberlin, vicar of Fendalton says.

On the Sunday following the February 22 shake, the morning service was conducted outside.

Now more than $2 million-worth of strengthening and repairs have been carried out.

"It has dropped around the bell tower, the floor has gone up in the centre or the outside has gone down," John Taggart from Lunds Construction said of the damage. "It's not as bad as other buildings around town."

The church has been tied together from one end to the other, pinned the corners with stainless steel rods. Sprinklers have been added and the church organ and its 1800 pipes have been saved.

There were 75 pipe organs in Christchurch before the earthquake started. There are now 25 that are playable, and this church will bring that number to 26.

St Baranabas repair and return to form is in stark contrast to the cathedral still languishing in the square.

The Fendalton church's reopening in two weeks' time is proving popular. Already 300 tickets have been snapped up for the special service.

So it's a ticket-only affair. The church is already full and every pew is taken. There will be extra seating outside, with Anglican Bishop Victoria Matthews preaching at the service.

Rev Mark Chamberlin says: "The place is going to be packed. It is going to be buzzing; it's going to be fantastic a great opportunity to make a new beginning."