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Christchurch earthquake: We remember

Latest updates and comments from and the public, marking the first anniversary of the February 22, 2011 Christchurch earthquake.


  1. 1400: Hayden Donnell has summarised the memorial service.

    A moving memorial is concluded with family of earthquake victims laying wreaths for their lost loved ones. The ceremony was at times deeply moving. People could be seen holding each other and weeping openly as the names of the 185 dead were read aloud.

    The two minutes' silence at 12.51pm was the crunch point - where the mood turned. After a very sombre moment of reflection, the grief was tempered by hope for a future rebuilt city and joy at what it means to be a Cantabrian.

    The place that proudly supports the 'best rugby team in the world' also has some of the world's best people, and all that they've lost has made them all the more glad to have each other.

    This concludes our latest updates of the first anniversary of the February 22, 2011 earthquake. Thank you for reading, and Kia Kaha, Christchurch.
  2. 1340: Friends and families of loved ones who were killed in the quake have joined dignitaries in placing flowers against the stage, bringing the service to an end.

    An elderly Japanese man bows and prays as he lays a wreath for his lost loved one. Other family members go up hand in hand. There is absolute silence around the stage.
  3. 1332: Reverend Victoria Matthews, Anglican Bishop of Christchurch, is now giving the blessing.

    "We have heard so much, and our hearts are so full."
  4. 1330: The Christchurch Pops Choir is now singing You Raise Me Up. During the song, 185 monarch butterflies will be released by the children of employees of Telecom New Zealand in Christchurch.

    Earlier, Sir Jerry Mateparae said each butterfly "represents a person who died; a soul departed. The butterflies also symbolise a new beginning: like the rebirth and renewal of a cumbersome caterpillar out of a cocoon transformed into a creature of exquisite and delicate beauty."

    "Like the life cycle of the butterfly, from the shattered cocoon of a once great place, a new and vibrant city can arise."

    Hayden Donnell reports: A survivor's claim that Christchurch has the best rugby team in the world draws laughter from around the park. People are starting to talk to each other again. The mood is lifting.
  5. Quake - A year on: Messages of support for Christchurch
  6. 1320: Some people began filing out of the memorial following the two minute silence, reports Hayden Donnell.

    Large screens are now playing Voices of Hope - interviews with Cantabrians describing what they love about Christchurch and their hope for the future.

    Those who have stayed are smiling as they hear the interviews.

  7. Secretary Clinton on the Anniversary of the February 2011 Christchurch Earthquake
  8. 1311: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has addressed the service via video. She said she had she had visited the city only months earlier and was "shocked" to learn of the devastation and loss of life.

    "Even those of us far away on that day share your grief," Mrs Clinton said.

    "We grieve with you and we think of you all the time."

  9. 1307: Governor-General Lieutenant General Sir Jerry Mateparae has given a speech honouring those lost in the February 22 earthquake during the first anniversary memorial service at Hagley Park, reports APNZ.

    "A year ago today, at 12.51pm on the 22nd of February 2011, the lives of the people of Christchurch and Canterbury were changed forever by a devastating earthquake.

    "A year ago today, lives were tragically cut short, families ripped apart, and thousands of homes and buildings were destroyed beyond repair."

    More than 22,000 people were estimated to have gathered at Hagley Park today to remember those they had lost, all that had changed, and all the pain endured since the disaster, he said.

    Sir Jerry followed by reading a message from Charles the Prince of Wales.

    "It has been more than 40 years since I first visited New Zealand, and over those many years I have come to know Christchurch and the Canterbury region as treasures of the country’s natural and built environment. It was, therefore, with rising horror that my wife and I watched the unfolding scenes of devastation that so disfigured this beautiful city and the pain and desolation of those who lost family, friends and colleagues.

    "I can well imagine how the suffering continues to this day for all those who mourn and as you seek to rebuild your lives in the face of this great tragedy.

    Prince Charles said the "best of the New Zealand people's characteristics" have come to the fore.

    "The spirit of determination, of courage and of good humour that so characterises the people of New Zealand will, I am sure, have held you steady as you go about the slow process of rebuilding your city and your lives. You will know better than me how the bonds of family and friendship and of trials borne together make for strong and resilient communities."
  10. 1254: People hugged each other and wept during that two minutes of silence. Others lowered their heads and wiped their eyes, reported Hayden Donnell from Hagley Park.

    Following the silence Bishop Jones has asked those gathered to remember the 185 who died and their families, also those who have died since the quakes as a result of the trauma caused in their lives, those who were injured and those whose lives were forever changed on that day one year ago.
  11. 1250: The silence for Christchurch will take place in one minute.
  12. 1235: The names of the 185 people who died in and as a result of the February 22 earthquake will now be read out, followed by two minutes' silence at 12.51pm, lead by the Most Reverend Barry Jones, Catholic Bishop of Christchurch.
  13. 1231: Prime Minister John Key read from Romans, chapter 8, verses 35-39.

    "Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

    "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God."

    Mr Key was followed by police chaplain Reverend Jim Patrick, Ecumenical hospital chaplain Reverend Pam Tizzard, and Fire Service chaplain Reverend James Ullrich. Young people from an interfaith group, including members of Baha'i, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim faiths, then read The Act of Remembrance.

    "... From all corners of the world, with all our creeds, with all our similarities and differences, we remember them."

    From the audience, Hayden Donnell says: An elderly woman in a wheelchair to my right cried at that rendition of How Great Thou Art.
  14. 1222: Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said this day is above all others the "heaviest and hardest" for those who lost loved ones.

    "To those people who carry physical injuries ... everybody here thinks of you all.

    "We can never be the same again."

    He said great links had been made because of the earthquake - "bounds that will never be broken".

    Mr Parker said no city ever been more united and Christchurch had a great task in front of it - to "rebuild a city fit for heroes".

    Sam Johnson, representing the Student Volunteer Army, read from Ecclesiastes, chapter 3, verses 1-8.

    "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven ... a time to weep, and a time to laugh, a time to mourn, and a time to dance..."

    The Christchurch Pops Choir, featuring Ariana Tikao and Jon Hooker, and accompanied by the New Zealand Army Band, is now performing How Great Thou Art, both in Te Reo and English.

    From the audience, Hayden Donnell says: "The crowd is a cross-section of Christchurch. Children and elderly, Maori, pakeha and an assortment of other nationalities. Many are wearing red and black."
  15. 1203: Hayden Donnell is at Hagley Park, where he says thousands of people have turned out for the memorial service.

    Prime Minister John Key and his wife Bronagh Key, and Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae and his wife Lady Janine Mateparae are among those present.

    The call of the Pututara (conch shell) has signalled the beginning of the service.

    Henare Rakiihia Tau, of Ngai Tuahuriri, Ngai Tahu’s principle hapu in the region, is delivering the Mihi Whakatau, a prayer of thanksgiving followed by a welcome to those gathered for the service.
    The national anthem, God Defend New Zealand, will now be sung in Te Reo and in English.