A private Karakia has marked the start of construction on Christchurch's official earthquake memorial.
Prime Minister John Key took part in the sod turning event this morning at the site of the memorial, between Montreal Street on the corner of Oxford Terrace, and Durham Street South, in central Christchurch.
The $11 million memorial will honour the lives of those who died in Canterbury's earthquakes and provide a place to pay respect.
It will acknowledge the shared trauma experienced by the people of Canterbury, and recognise those who participated in the rescue and recovery operation following the February 2011 quake.
Slovenian architect Grega Vezjak created the winning design, which features a curved marble wall, a riverside walkway and a bridge that crosses to a smaller memorial garden.
The 150m long wall will be inscribed with the names of the 185 people who died.
The memorial will be officially dedicated on the sixth anniversary of the quake in 2017.