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Sixth anniversary of Christchurch quake

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 21/02/2017

A marble memorial wall etched with the names of the 185 people killed in the Christchurch earthquake has been unveiled in front of their families and loved ones on the sixth anniversary of their deaths.

As Prime Minister Bill English said, their absence in the city is keenly felt.

Their names were read out and a minute silence held at 12.51pm, exactly the time the quake struck, to reflect on the memories of the dead, the injured and the first responders who risked their lives to help.

"We cannot know what fear or courage or hope filled the past moments of your loved ones," Mr English said.

"Today we stand with you and those who watched them go. Families, friends, workmates and complete strangers who reached for them and tried their utmost to protect them and comfort them."

The 112-metre long wall made of 517 marble panels is the focal point of the memorial which was unveiled by emergency services responders who were in Christchurch when the magnitude 6.3 quake struck on February 22, 2011.

It's called the Oi Manawa memorial, meaning tremor of the heart.

Gerry Brownlee, the minister responsible for the greater Christchurch regeneration, says the memorial will be a place to remember the day that changed Canterbury forever.

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said Wednesday was an opportunity for people to come together and quietly reflect.

"The impacts of the quakes went right through the country and around the world for those who lost loved ones in our city on this day six years ago," she said.

"It is a time to reflect on our shared sense of loss and also to give thanks for the incredible work that emergency services did in our city after the quakes."

Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu chief executive Arihia Bennett said the memorial unveiling was a positive step forward after an extended period of upheaval.

"It will be somewhere people can contemplate and learn new ways to cope with the trauma they have experienced," she said.

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