22 Feb 2017

The Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial has been dedicated in an emotional ceremony marking the sixth anniversary of the February 22, 2011 earthquake.

About 3000 people gathered at the new Oi Manawa Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial to mark the sixth anniversary of the deadly quake. The Dedication and Civic Memorial Service started at midday on Wednesday at the Memorial site on the banks of the Avon River near the Montreal Street Bridge.

Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial

The Memorial Wall inscribed with the names of those who died in the 2011 earthquake was unveiled at Oi Manawa today.

Family members of those who died in the disaster, injured survivors, and members of the emergency and rescue services were invited guests along with dignitaries. Members of the public stood or sat on the river banks to watch the ceremony on a large screen while others looked down from the balconies of neighbouring buildings.

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said the Memorial was a special place where people could come to remember the devastating earthquakes that changed Canterbury.

"This is the place where we can come to reflect, as individuals, as family, as a community, as a city, as a region, as a nation."

It honoured those whose lives were lost or changed forever on February 22. 

"We reflect with sadness on all that we've lost.  We think of those courageous people who were the first responders on this day. And we reflect with gratitude on all those whose lives are dedicated to the service of others who continue to defend our city at times like these." 

"For years to come people will come to this place to remember and honour your loss as we hope today that this memorial of hopes will stitch up the ragged edges of broken hearts. You can know that the memories of your loved ones are at the foundations of this renewed city."Prime Minister Bill English said the memorial was a "place of peace and a symbol of our love and respect for those who have gone".

Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel with Prime Minister Bill English at the ceremony.

Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy read a message from Queen Elizabeth II in which the Queen expressed her hope the memorial would be a sanctuary and a place of solace and reflection. "I hope that the new memorial will provide a place to remember; to grieve for what is lost and to give thanks for what remains."

During the ceremony a section of the marble Memorial Wall on the south bank of the Memorial site was unveiled where the names of those who died are engraved.

The curtain was lifted by first responders, in recognition of their contribution to the rescue and recovery following the earthquake. 

The names of the 185 people killed in the quake were read out in an order reflecting their position on the wall, an arrangement that has been guided by the wishes of the bereaved families. 

A minute’s silence was held at 12.51pm, the time the devastating earthquake hit six years ago today. 

Bev Edwards, representing people physically and psychologically injured in the earthquakes, read the Dedication, and Christchurch singer Marlon Williams sang Now is the Hour accompanied by the New Zealand Army Band. Timua Brennan also performed Whakaaria Mai.

In one of the emotional moments of the service, an Act of Acknowledgement was shown on the big screen, featuring a series of photos taken during the aftermath of the quake. It included images of people helping others, including members of the Student Volunteer Army digging silt, residents holding sausage sizzles, and people helping to fill water bottles. 

Near the conclusion of the ceremony a lone piper, Tom Glover, walked the length of the Memorial Wall playing Flowers of the Forest

Oi Manawa, meaning "tremor of the heart", was designed by Slovenian architect Grega Vezjak.

Ōtākaro Limited, Christchurch City Council, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and the Ministry of Culture and Heritage worked together to deliver the Memorial.