Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker says his city is looking forward to "an utterly extraordinary future".
Two years on from the devastating earthquake that killed 185 people, Parker told TV ONE's Breakfast his life is still centred around the quake.
"I think everybody in the city is still in some way wrestling with whatever their connection is with it," he said.
"This is an extraordinary time in the city, but many of us are still having to cope with the downsides as well."
He said you can't go anywhere in Christchurch without being reminded of what happened on this day two years ago.
"It is still the whole core of our being, I suppose."
"I think there is that sense of, why did this happen here? Why did it happen to us? How could that be? Is it a nightmare or is it, you know, just the way things are?"
The mayor said many people packed away their emotions, but the anniversary meant people started to talk again about where they were when the quake struck and the sense of loss they still feel.
"As much as we're looking forward to an utterly extraordinary future, I think also on this day we just remember what we lost."
Parker also spoke of the "incredible things" people in the city have done, on the day of the quake and since.
"You've got half a million motivated people in the greater Christchurch area who have experienced something which you can't really explain unless you were here ... but it's changed us in a very empowering way," he said. "The people of this city are the heroes of this story."
Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee has labelled 2013 rebuild year, something which Parker said he completely agreed with.
Brownlee told Breakfast about the "huge effort" people of the city are putting in.
"You've only got to go around the city to see tens of thousands of people working hard to put things back."
Prime Minister John Key also commended Christchurch for its work towards the rebuild: "We take our hats off to the people of Christchurch who have worked so hard to put the city back together."