Bells toll to remember quake dead

11:20 pm on 1 March 2011

Cathedral bells tolled around the country at 12.51pm on Tuesday to mark two minutes' silence in remembrance of those who died in Christchurch's earthquake exactly a week ago.

Church services were held from 12.30pm at Anglican and Catholic cathedrals, including those in Auckland, Napier and New Plymouth.

Their bells rang once at 12.51pm - the time the deadly quake struck a week ago - to herald the start of a national two-minute silence, and rang again at the end of it.

No bells rang at Christchurch Cathedral itself because they were damaged in the quake. To the people gathered in Cathedral Square the Anglican Bishop of Christchurch, Victoria Matthews, offered a prayer moments before the silence descended.

About 120 people involved in the search and rescue operations observed the two minutes' silence in Christchurch. Fire crews, army and ambulance personnel stood at attention.

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker says it was an emotional day for the people of the city, who have barely been able to take a breath since the earthquake.

Vigil outside Parliament

Between 4000 and 5000 people filled the grounds of Parliament for a service. The crowd stood quietly during the two minutes' silence, though some people cried and others hugged each other for support.

People at the service said they were there to remember those who died, and to show their support for those who are struggling with the aftermath.

Hundreds also gathered in the capital's Civic Square to mark the occasion, and ended the silence with a softly sung rendition of God Defend New Zealand.

Auckland service

More than 600 people gathered in the Anglican Cathedral in Auckland to remember those who died and pray for those involved in the rescue effort and those continuing to suffer.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown and Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye took part in the service.