Thousands of New-Zealanders took part in a ceremony to mark the one-year anniversary of a powerful earthquake on February 22, 2012. The earthquake left 185 people dead in downtown Christchurch.
Our contributor says :
"A memorial service was held in Christchurch's Hagley Park to commemorate those who died in the Earthquake and the destruction of the city on February 22, 2011 at 12.51pm.
Amongst those in attendance were The Right Honourable John Key, Prime Minister of New Zealand and Mrs Bronagh Key, and their Excellencies Lieutenant General the Right Honourable Sir Jerry Mateparae GNZM QSO Governor-General of New Zealand and Lady Mateparae. Also in attendance were members of the clergy, Ngai Tahu elders, the Mayor and Mayoress of Christchurch, mayors and local authority representatives, Government Ministers, the Leader of the Opposition, leaders of Political Parties, members of Parliament, The Dean and Members of the Diplomatic Corps from various countries.
The New Zealand Army Band, the Linwood College Orchestra and the Christchurch Pop Choir provided the musical backdrop to the ceremony. A local Ngai Tahu elder opened the ceremony welcoming people, followed by a speech by Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker. This was followed by readings by the Prime Minister, John Key, Sam Johnson leader of the Student Volunteer Army, and members of the clergy representing the various religious groups in Christchurch. As well, young members of various faiths gave short readings.
The Hymn “How Great Thou Art” was sung by the Christchurch Pops Choir featuring Ariana Tikao and Jon Hooker on guitar, and accompanied by the New Zealand Army Band.
A major part of the ceremony was the reading of the names of the 185 people who were killed in the Earthquake and its aftermath. These were read by members of the various services involved in the rescue, including the Fire Service and the Police.
The Most Reverend Barry Jones, Catholic Bishop of Christchurch lead the gathering in two minutes silence beginning at 12.51 pm, and then he followed this with a prayer in remembrance of the 185 who died and their families, as well also those who have
died since the quakes as a result of the trauma caused in their lives, those who were injured and those who’s lives were forever changed on that day one year ago.
His Excellency Lieutenant General the Right Honourable Sir Jerry Mateparae, GNZM, QSO, Governor General then gave a speech in which he included a message from His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales.
A video message from Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State was played remembering the US contribution to the search and rescue effort and also making reference to the New Zealand contribution the following Japanese earthquake and tsunami of March the 9th 2011.
Following this, 185 Monarch Butterflies were released to commemorate those who died and also to symbolise the new beginning for Christchurch.
A blessing was then given by the Right Reverend Victoria Matthews, Anglican Bishop of Christchurch and finally floral wreaths were placed bringing the proceedings to a close.