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Massive light beams to shine for Chch

Published: 1:30PM Monday August 29, 2011 Source: ONE News

Cantabrians Janine Morrell-Gunn and Jason Gunn are the brains behind "The White Lights of Hope" - two massive lights set to be switched on from Cathedral Square, a year since the September 4 earthquake.

Similar to New York's Twin Towers' "Tribute in Light", the lights will shine every night until February 23, one day after the second catastrophic quake that claimed 181 lives.

Janine Morrell-Gunn told TV ONE's Breakfast that originally they would have liked the lights to come out of the Cathedral itself but that had proved impossible because of safety.

They will shine from the square and are expected to beam seven kilometres into the sky, although will be tested tonight to check their range.

"Without a doubt it has been a challenging time for the people here and the city has become a kind of dark hole that people skirt around," Morrell-Gunn said. "A girl likes to shop and have a few bubbles with her friends down the strip and we haven't been able to be there for eight months.

"So it's that thing about knowing that the future is great and exciting, but now might be a good time for a bit of a symbol of hope. Don't turn your back on the city - look in - the light still shines and our heart still beats. It's all going to be fine."

Morrell-Gunn said with spring on the way, there was hope that the relentlessness of what had happened over the past year would ease.

"For all of us living and working here I reckon it's time to look up. Our future is exciting and fills us with confidence, but right now we need a symbol of hope," Morrell-Gunn said.

At 6.45pm on Sunday, a small service will be held outside the Christchurch Cathedral. The White Lights Of Hope will then be blessed by Dean Peter Beck and Ngai Tahu kaumatua.

As it is Father's Day, the lights will be turned on by mayor Bob Parker's father. Young choristers from the Christchurch Cathedral will sing.

"Most people here don't even remember Father's Day from last year," Morrell-Gunn said. "So the lights seem such a little thing but it's that positive bit of energy you need to feel round the place."

Then at 6.59pm when the lights are switched on - to be shown live on ONE News - all New Zealanders are being asked to shine their own white lights up into the sky as a show of solidarity and support to the people of Canterbury.

Jason Gunn said the lights were symbolic for plenty of reasons.

"The family and I have had a few nervous nights together in the dark over the last 12 months. But our trusty torch has always got us through. It seems where there is light, there is hope," Gunn said.

Westpac is helping fund the lights.

* See the lights switch on this Sunday during ONE News at 6pm.
* Tell us about White Light events by emailing  
* You can upload your photos and videos after the event on the ONE News Facebook page