Prime Minister John Key has announced there will be a national memorial service for the victims of the Christchurch earthquake.
It will be held on Friday March 18.
It will also be a one-off provincial holiday for the Canterbury region so that as many Cantabrians as possible can attend the service in North Hagley Park.
The service will begin at 12.45pm to coincide with the time the February 22 earthquake struck - 12.51pm.
It is being organised in conjunction with the office of Christchurch mayor Bob Parker.
"By having a provincial holiday we are allowing a large number of people to attend the service," Key said.
The holiday will require a law change; Labour has said it will
Key is expecting more than 100,000 people to attend the service, including a large overseas contingent.
"While we will never forget those who have been lost, we must now focus that indomitable Canterbury spirit on the future.
"This service will be a beginning, not an end," he said.
He said a nationwide holiday was discussed but Cabinet decided against it.
The death toll from the devastating 6.3 magnitude quake stands at 166.
Key said the flags on government buildings should be raised from half-mast at 12.51pm tomorrow, exactly two weeks after the quake struck.
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