Showing 'great heart and resilience'

Feb 22: Hundreds gather to remember

FAIRFAX REPORTERS
Last updated 14:01 22/02/2013
Daniel Tobin

Hundreds of people paid tribute to those lost in the February earthquake two years ago today.

Scott Base floral tribute
Nichola Lang Zoom
WITH LOVE: Nichola Lang, left and Nicky Hawker, in Scott Base

Merrin School marks quake anniversary

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A tear-stained Christchurch is nearly through the ''worst of it'', Prime Minister John Key has told residents while marking the second anniversary of the February 22 quake.

A series of events are being held around Christchurch today to mark the terrible destruction brought by the quake and to remember the 185 people killed.

More than 500 people gathered at Latimer Square for the main memorial service, where Key and mayor Bob Parker gave speeches.

Key urged Cantabrians to ''persevere'' and ''stay strong''.

"In the past two years, I would bet more tears have been shed in this city than in the rest of the country put together," said Key.

"We're just about through the worst of it. Better times are ahead as we rebuild a city that we can all be proud of."

Key said the Government was "absolutely committed" to the rebuild and hoped people could remain patient.

"I know it's hard, I know there's still suffering, and everyone is anxious for things to go faster, but this job is unprecedented in the world, and we should judge ourselves by how we have come so far."

He paid tribute to those who lost loved ones in the quake. "Your grief is still raw, and only time can help numb the pain of your loss."

Parker said the rebuild needed to produce a city that honoured the losses of the past two years.

"As much as we say we will look forward...we have to acknowledge that the  terrible events that took place here have caused a deep pain, a deep sense of loss that will be with us forever."

Elsewhere, about 200 people gathered at the Wainoni Methodist Church to mark the second anniversary of the February 2011 earthquake.

Christchurch Central MP Nicky Wagner was among those who read out the names of the 185 earthquake victims.

People walked from the church to one of the River of Flowers sites to throw flowers and origami peace cranes into the Avon River.

Eilyn Parker, 9, said she was "a bit sad today". Her family's Avondale home was red zoned and she had to move schools.

"I miss living in Avondale. I don't get to see my old friends anymore."

LATIMER SQUARE MEMORIAL SERVICE ROLLING UPDATES:

1pm: The official service comes to an end with concluding prayers from Anglican Bishop Victoria Matthews and Catholic Bishop Barry Jones.

Community groups and other individuals are now placing floral tributes on the temporary memorial in the square.

12.52pm: Three religious figures lead prayers, before Rev Chris Chamberlain from the Oxford Tce Baptist Church leads the crowd in the Lord's Prayer.

12.50pm: All those in Latimer Square are silent and still as a minute of silence is observed for the victims of February 22.

12.47pm: Representatives from the emergency services involved in the quake recovery get a generous round of applause as they lay their wreaths.

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12.45pm: John Key laws a wreath on behalf of the NZ Government, and is followed by Bob Parker laying a wreath on behalf of the people of Christchurch.

Wreaths are also being laid by representatives of the tangata whenua, the international community and all emergency services and first responders

12.42pm: Members of the Christchurch Interfaith Council are now giving the Act of Remembrance for those who died in the quakes.

12.40: "In the past two years, I would bet more tears have been shed in this city than in the rest of the country put together," said Key.

"It's been very tough but I urge you to persevere. Stay strong. We're just about through the worst of it. Better times are ahead as we rebuild a city that we can all be proud of."

12.38pm: John Key says the Government is "absolutely committed" to the rebuild and hopes Cantabrians can remain patient.

"I know it's hard, I know there's still suffering, and everyone is anxious for things to go faster, but this job is unprecedented in the world, and we should judge ourselves by how we have come so far."

12.35pm: Prime Minister John Key take to the stage.

He pays tribute to those who lost loved ones in the quake. "Your grief is still raw, and only time can help numb the pain of your loss."

Key says Cantabrians have shown "great heart and resilience" since February 22 and are seizing the chance to build the best city they can.

"In just a few years, this will be one of the best and most liveable cities in the world."

12.29pm: Following the hymn How Great Thou Art, St John Ambulance employee Helen Bickers gives a Bible reading on behalf of the emergency services who helped in the city following the February 22 quake.

12.24pm: Bob Parker says we have to build a city and a community that will honour the losses of the last two years.

People across the country and the world are also gathering with Christchurch in spirit to mark the day and look forward to the city's bright future as it rebuilds, he says.

"We as a people must work together to build something together so that our loss, no matter how difficult to understand and how impossible to come to terms with, that loss will count for something."

12.20pm: Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker takes to stage to greet everyone who has come to the service.

He says we have to look forward to the future but also reflect on what we have lost.

"As much as we say we will look forward...we have to acknowledge that the  terrible events that took place here have caused a deep pain, a deep sense of loss that will be with us forever."

12.15pm: The ceremony has started with a prayer of thanksgiving from Ngai Tuahuriri speaker Henare Rakiihia Tau.

The crowd is now standing to sing the national anthem.

12.02pm: The New Zealand Army band is playing as the crowd filters into Latimer Square - there are more than 500 people here now.

MPs and city councillors are among those in the crowd, along with school pupils, rescue workers and a wide range of the community.

And to join our conversation as we follow the day's commemorative events comment below or tweet using #eqnz.

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Pupils' tribute to victims

Merrin School pupils have laid flowers as a tribute to earthquake victims and been told to look to the future at an emotional ceremony.

Pupils at the Avonhead school have marked the second anniversary of the February 22 earthquake this morning with a special service.

Children placed 185 paper flowers - one for each victim - at the base of the school's flagpole, which has been lowered to half-mast for the day.

An ex-pupil's poem encouraging residents to ''rise like a phoenix from the ashes'' was also read out.

Merrin School principal Lisa Dillon-Roberts said the school wanted to have a small ceremony of its own so children could reflect on their earthquake experiences.

''We just felt that it was too important a date not to mark in some way.''

Dillon-Roberts said the service was balanced between paying tribute to those who had died and looking towards the future.

''We can remember and respect the people who lost their lives, but we can have a good day, a positive day, and not a sad day.''

Most of the children had handled the service well, although a few had been caught up in the emotions of the day.

''We had three or four students who had a wee cry, and I saw some arms going around each other, but that just shows how well people are supporting each other,'' she said.

 

- © Fairfax NZ News

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