4 Mar 2012

Ceremony gives Carterton chance to grieve - mayor

3:31 pm on 4 March 2012

The mayor of Carterton, Ron Mark, says a civic ceremony on Sunday to commemorate January's ballooning tragedy has been a chance for the whole community to grieve.

Eleven people, five couples and the pilot, were killed when the balloon caught fire and crashed in a paddock at Clareville near Carterton on 7 January.

An investigation has found the balloon was not properly maintained. Sixteen balloons have since been grounded pending tests.

Mr Mark says the ceremony, which was attended by the Prime Minister, the Governor-General and other dignitaries, has allowed the town to express its sorrow to the victims' families.

He say the ceremony also allowed the community to pay tribute to the emergency response personnel who tended the crash site.

Mr Mark says it also provided an opportunity for the community to come together and start the healing process.

He says with the Balloons Over Wairarapa festival set to start next week, local people need to feel free to enjoy the celebrations without being them being overshadowed by the tragedy.