Hundreds turned out today to pay tribute to the victims of the Carterton balloon tragedy.
Family members, local emergency services and members of the public packed into the Carterton Events Centre for a memorial service to honour the lives of 11 people killed on January 7.
A solemn silence came over the service as Carterton Mayor Ron Mark read the names of those killed.
He spoke of what began as a special flight but which ended in tragedy when a scenic hot air balloon grazed power lines and caught on fire before plummeting to the ground.
Prime Minister John Key, Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae and Labour leader David Shearer attended the service.
"The healing process will take some time, but the rest of New Zealand will want to put their arms around them (families and friends) as much as they can and give them comfort and support," Key said of grieving family and friends.
Emotions ran high in the hall as the Governor-General read an Irish blessing.
"May the wind be ever at your back, may the sun shine warm upon your face and the rain fall softly on your fields..."
Labour leader David Shearer said today was a day to "remember
and treasure" those who died.
"Today's memorial service gives us an opportunity to come together and celebrate the lives of those who were taken from us, and to mourn their loss."
A song written for the ceremony was performed in tribute.
Emergency services and the Carterton community were also acknowledged at the service.
There will be another tribute in Carterton next Thursday when balloonists at the annual balloon festival will pay their respects to the victims.
- With Newstalk ZB