22 Feb 2014

Christchurch remembers 2011 quake

9:28 pm on 22 February 2014

Christchurch has remembered those who died on the third anniversary of the devastating 2011 earthquake.

Thousands of people gathered for the civic memorial service on the archery lawn at the Botanical Gardens to observe two minutes' silence at 12:51pm, the time when the 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck the city on 22 February 2011.

The memorial service about to begin.

The memorial service about to begin. Photo: RNZ

The reading of the names of the 185 victims from around the world wrapped up the hour-long service.

In her address, mayor Lianne Dalziel said the day was a time to remember the loss of life and devastation that occurred, and to look with hope and determination towards the future.

Ms Dalziel said the gradual realisation the city would never go back to the way things were could be much harder for some than others.

She paid tribute to the ordinary people who became rescuers and heroes in the aftermath of the earthquake and the selfless acts of courage that were repeated many times over that day and night.

Ms Dalziel said family members of those who died asked her to share that the best way to honour them was to learn lessons from what happened and use the rebuild to make Christchurch a better and safer place.

Prince William's message

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee read a message to the people of Christchurch from Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, who visited shortly after the earthquake.

The Prince said it seemed unbelievable that such a beautiful and historic city could receive such a blow.

Mr Brownlee said the Prince and the Duchess of Cambridge were looking forward to revisiting the city this year, to see its progress and the unquenchable spirit of the people.

Wreaths were laid by members of key emergency and support services, as well as dignitaries including Japanese foreign affairs vice-minister Norie Mitsuya.

As with services held on each of the past two years, relatives of victims, along with seriously injured survivors, were allocated priority seating.

Elsewhere, the Rebuild Christchurch organisation placed flowers in the hundreds of thousands of road cones lining city streets.

And in the River of Flowers initiative Cantabrians were invited to lay flowers along the Avon, Heathcote and Liffey rivers and at 12 sites in the city.

Christchurch City Council has also beautified the CTV site, where 115 people died.

The beautified CTV site.

The beautified CTV site. Photo: RNZ