Sir Bob Parker 'sad and humble, but also very proud' to sit alongside quake survivors

8:45 pm on 22 February 2021

Cantabrians who lived through the devastating Christchurch earthquakes 10 years ago have been given a message of hope and optimism, amid a day of tears and remembrance.

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Politicians including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (centre) were among those to attend the ceremony. Photo: RNZ / Hugo Cameron

Hundreds gathered to remember the 6.3 magnitude earthquake that struck Christchurch at 12.51pm in 2011, claiming the lives of 185 people and forever changing the lives of many others.

People filled the memorial park, that looks towards the memorial wall, with some watching from nearby balconies or building windows.

On the banks of the Avon, at the National Earthquake Memorial, the names of the dead were read, after a minute's silence.

Among those in the crowd were family members of the victims and those who had survived, alongside dignitaries including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel.

Former Christchurch mayor Bob Parker  listens to Prime Minister John Key during a press conference four days after the deadly quake on February 22, 2011

Former Christchurch mayor Sir Bob Parker listening to John Key, who was prime minister at the time, two days after the big quake. Photo: AFP

Sir Bob Parker, the mayor of Christchurch at the time of the earthquakes whose leadership and countless hours talking to the media was hailed by many as inspirational, attended the ceremony despite his ill health.

Lianne Dalziel read a message from Sir Bob, which brought the crowd as close to clapping as the crowd got today.

"Today, I feel sad and humble, but also very proud to be sitting alongside you as we remember the horror of that dreadful day 10 years ago," he said.

"It was a nightmare that was delivered on that mild sunlit late summer's day - a moment that changed everything and everyone forever - a moment that caused a level of destruction and casualty that none of us will ever forget.

"For those who were not here at the time, it would be difficult to really understand what we felt, what we shared, what we lost. Those who were here, or whose loved ones were here, share a bond that is impossible to explain beyond this place."

Lianne Dalziel also paid a special tribute to the families of overseas victims of the city's earthquakes.

Dalziel made a special mention to the families of the Japanese victims who died in the quake, who could not make it to New Zealand this year.

She said she has been moved by the stories she has read and seen in the lead up to today.

CTV Families Group spokesperson Maan Alkaisi speaks to media at the former site of the CTV Building on 16 December, 2020.

CTV Families Group spokesperson Maan Alkaisi speaks to media at the former site of the CTV Building on 16 December 2020. Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

Meanwhile, a man who lost his wife in Christchurch's CTV building collapse has spoken of the bond formed between the families of the victims since the disaster.

One hundred and fifteen victims died in the CTV building collapse, including the wife of Maan Alkaisi, Maysoon Abbas.

Dr Alkaisi said the victims' loved ones are dearly missed, and spoke of the connection developed among families.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she sees hope, energy and optimism for Christchurch in the coming decade.

She also made special mention of the children who lived through the quakes and its aftermath.

Ardern said the past decade has been difficult for the city, and at times must have felt impossible.

But Ardern looked positively to the future.

"I'd like to acknowledge the children who lived through the earthquake and grew up in its aftermath. Some of these children will be teenagers now, or have left school and started jobs or university.

"I have in the past called this the generation of the rebuild. But they are also the generation that will create a legacy."

The service ended with the laying of wreaths, with others lining the Avon River, throwing flowers in the water to commemorate the lives lost.

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