27 Feb 2020

Christchurch mayor gives formal apology to families bereaved in 22 February quake

12:55 pm on 27 February 2020

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel has made a formal apology on behalf of Christchurch City Council to families bereaved in the 22 February 2011 earthquake.

In a video posted to the council website, she acknowledges the 185 lives lost that day, including those of the 115 people lost in the collapse of the CTV building.

"I took guidance from a letter to me from the families in Japan which said: 'The only way for us to find meaning in the devastating loss of our beloved [family members] is the knowledge that in the future, someone else will be spared the grief and pain of losing a loved one under similar circumstances'.

"On behalf of the council, I want to acknowledge first each of the 185 precious lives that were lost in our city on 22 February 2011 as a result of the events of that day.

"I offer my heartfelt condolences to all of you who tragically lost loved ones in building collapses, when unreinforced masonry fell, or from rockfall in the Port Hills.

"I also want to acknowledge those who were injured or traumatised and extend my sincere sympathies to you as well."

"One hundred and fifteen of the 185 people who died that day were in the CTV building. A further 18 people died in the PGC building. The places where these buildings stood have become permanent reserves, so their memory lives on, in the gentle atmosphere of the parks with trees and flowers recalling each of them every day forevermore," she said.

Dalziel said she was aware that not all of the families would welcome an apology.

"Nothing I can say or do will change what happened on that day. Nothing will restore to them what has been lost."

She said changes had been made as a result of the tragedy.

"The CTV building was given a permit under the local authority bylaws that existed at the time. The Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission, established to report on the causes of building failures in the earthquake, discussed in their final summary, a number of factors that contributed to the issue of the building permit for the construction of the CTV building. However, the Royal Commission did not reach any clear conclusion on why the permit was issued without further amendment of the designs. We can therefore apologise for the fact that the building was able to be constructed as it was.

"With our heartfelt apology comes an absolute commitment to ensuring that we learn the lessons of that day...we will continue to put in place and advocate for any more checks and balances that would help to prevent that occurring again.

Finally, she acknowledged the wider human impact the tragedy, thanked the first responders, the USAR teams and all those who stepped up in the worst possible circumstances on that fateful day.

"Our heartfelt thanks go to you all. Christchurch will remain forever in your debt."

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