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'A new Christchurch will emerge' - PM tells memorial service

Published: 1:14PM Friday February 22, 2013 Source: ONE News

Hundreds gathered in Christchurch's Latimer Square this afternoon for a memorial service for the 185 people who died in the earthquake that struck the city two years ago today.

Prime Minister John Key spoke at the service, acknowledging the "great heart and resilience" of the Christchurch people.

"Your grief is still raw and only time can help to numb the pain of your loss," he said.

"This anniversary is the time to look at how far you have come in two years, and also to look forward down the road ahead.

"Out of these broken streets, which have been likened to a war zone, a new Christchurch will emerge."

Wreaths were laid at a memorial under an overcast sky, before a minute's silence to remember those who died.

"Over the last 24 hours, I've met with a number of families who are joined with us today to commemorate, to remember and to allow the emotions that surround the sadness of this event to come forward," Mayor Bob Parker said.

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

Bishop Victoria Matthews prayed for Cantabrians at the service, "our hearts are so full as we remember, grieve and hope and even dare to give thanks for the extraordinary journey of the past two years.

"Now standing at the threshold of the third year, we ask your strength and grace."

Other commemorations

While the main service was under way in Latimer Square, other communities marked the day by launching floating floral tributes on the Avon River.

One group released blooms while overlooking the broken Bexley suburb in eastern Christchurch, making it a poignant way to mark the losses across the city.

"It's to remember the community and how it pulled together and Bexley will always be here," one Cantabrian said as she tried to hold back her tears.

The river of flowers was part of a special low-key and community-led ceremony, where emotions flowed freely as old and young alike remembered the moment the quake struck .

Meanwhile, Christchurch Polytechnic marked the two year anniversary with the unveiling of a memorial sculpture.

It is designed to invite interaction and a place of reflection as 28 of the 185 quake victims were from the polytech.

Watch the whole memorial service OnDemand here