The Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial has been dedicated in an emotional ceremony marking the sixth anniversary of the February 22, 2011 earthquake.

About 3000 people gathered at the new Oi Manawa Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial to mark the sixth anniversary of the deadly quake. The Dedication and Civic Memorial Service started at midday on Wednesday at the Memorial site on the banks of the Avon River near the Montreal Street Bridge.

Family members of those who died in the disaster, injured survivors, and members of the emergency and rescue services were invited guests along with dignitaries. Members of the public stood or sat on the river banks to watch the ceremony on a large screen while others looked down from the balconies of neighbouring buildings.

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said the Memorial was a special place where people could come to remember the devastating earthquakes that changed Canterbury.

“This is the place where we can come to reflect, as individuals, as family, as a community, as a city, as a region, as a nation.”

“For years to come people will come to this place to remember and honour your loss as we hope today that this memorial of hopes will stitch up the ragged edges of broken hearts. You can know that the memories of your loved ones are at the foundations of this renewed city.”

Prime Minister Bill English said the memorial was a “place of peace and a symbol of our love and respect for those who have gone”.

The memorial was unveiled by Her Excellency The Right Honourable Governor General of New Zealand, Dame Patsy Reddy. Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy read a message from Queen Elizabeth II in which the Queen expressed her hope the memorial would be a sanctuary and a place of solace and reflection. “I hope that the new memorial will provide a place to remember; to grieve for what is lost and to give thanks for what remains.”

During the ceremony a section of the marble Memorial Wall on the south bank of the Memorial site was unveiled where the names of those who died are engraved. The curtain was lifted by first responders, in recognition of their contribution to the rescue and recovery following the earthquake.

The names of the 185 people killed in the quake were read out in an order reflecting their position on the wall, an arrangement that has been guided by the wishes of the bereaved families.

A minute’s silence was held at 12.51pm, the time the devastating earthquake hit six years ago today.

Bev Edwards, representing people physically and psychologically injured in the earthquakes, read the Dedication, and Christchurch singer Marlon Williams sang Now is the Hour accompanied by the New Zealand Army Band. Timua Brennan also performed Whakaaria Mai.

Near the conclusion of the ceremony a lone piper, Tom Glover, walked the length of the Memorial Wall playing Flowers of the Forest.

The previous evening, the memorial was unveiled to bereaved families at a Private Blessing Event, attended by 650 people from around the world.

Oi Manawa, meaning “tremor of the heart”, was designed by Slovenian architect Grega Vezjak. The Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial has been a priority for the Government and a key feature of the city’s regeneration. Ōtākaro Limited, Christchurch City Council, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and the Ministry of Culture and Heritage worked together to deliver the Memorial.

Oi Manawa is a place to reflect on the 2010/2011 earthquakes that changed Greater Christchurch forever. It pays respect to those who lost their lives, those who were seriously injured and survivors. The memorial also acknowledges the shared trauma and the support received during the response and recovery that followed.

More about the project here.