On 22 February 2011, a killer earthquake struck Christchurch claiming 185 lives. The day, which the then Prime Minister John Key called “one of our darkest days”, saw a magnitude-6.3 tremor also cause severe damage to thousands of buildings and collapsed several iconic Christchurch buildings.

This year marks the 11th anniversary of the earthquake, but keeping in mind the Covid-19 restrictions, there will be no civic service in the city. Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel wants people to find their own ways to mark the day and offer their remembrance. 

On the sixth anniversary commemoration of the earthquake, a memorial site called The Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial was developed. The site offers people a public place to pay their respects to the lives lost, reflect upon the destruction caused and share the trauma of the survivors. 

On 22 February this year, Mayor Dalziel will lay a wreath at this Memorial wall. 

Mayor Dalziel has encouraged people to mark the anniversary by spending time with their friends and family. 

“Others might want to visit the Memorial Wall at Oi Manawa Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial or they might want to observe a minute’s silence at 12.51pm – the time the earthquake struck.”

Other ceremonies include The River of Flowers, which started on the earthquake's first anniversary. This simple but powerful ceremony includes coming together of the Canterburians, dropping flowers into the river and holding two minutes of silence to remember those who lost their lives, got injured or lost their homes. 

This year, the organisers of this event are inviting people to come to selected locations along the Otakaro Avon River and Opawaho-Heathcote River to place a flower in the water. 

Mayor Dalziel says in the future, commemorations will be scaled back and only be when there is a significant milestone to be acknowledged, such as the 20th anniversary.

Mayor Dalziel said, “Although we are moving away from annual civic memorial services that does not mean we have forgotten the loss and the trauma that people suffered that day – nor have we forgotten the special relationship we have with bereaved families across the globe. We will continue to read the names and observe a minute’s silence on 22 February each year at the Memorial Wall at Oi Manawa Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial. We will never forget.’’