Prime Minister Bill English addressed the thousands of people gathered on Wednesday afternoon at the unveiling of Oi Manawa, the memorial to the 185 people who died in the magnitude-6.3 earthquake on February 22, 2011. Christchurch’s earthquake memorial is “a place to grieve, but also a place to hope”, says English.
Members of the public crammed into the area around the Montreal St bridge, flanking the official guests and dignitaries on the banks of the Avon River. Onlookers found vantage points in offices and apartments overlooking the scene, affording a view of the memorial.
STACY SQUIRES/FAIRFAX NZ A cyclist takes a moment to take in the memorial wall.
Oi Manawa, the earthquake memorial dedicated to the 185 victims of the magnitude-6.3 earthquake that struck Christchurch on February 22, 2011, has opened to the public on the sixth anniversary of the tragedy.
“We feel their absence keenly.”
He addressed the victims’ families directly: “We cannot know what fear or courage or hope filled the past moments of your loved ones. Today we stand with you and those who watched them go. Families, friends, workmates and complete strangers who reached for them and tried their utmost to protect them and comfort them.
“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. May the living live with hope and those who have died rest in peace.”
Oi Manawa, meaning “tremor of the heart”, was designed by Slovenian architect Grega Vezjak. It is a 112.5-metre-long wall made of concrete and clad in Italian marble. It features the names of all 185 victims and sits on the banks of the Avon River near the intersection of Montreal St and Oxford Tce.
The crowd includes victims’ family and friends, some of whom have travelled from abroad and members of the public. It also features musical items from Marlon Williams, Timua Brennan and the New Zealand Army Band.
All but one of Christchurch’s so called anchor projects will be under construction this year as the rebuild finally begins to hit its straps.
‘I MISS YOU SO MUCH’
Strung around a tree nearby the memorial, notes to those who died dangle like petals, heartfelt words scrawled in many languages.
“Dear mum, I miss you so much, think about you every day,” writes Marie.
STACY SQUIRES/FAIRFAX NZ
Notes written to earthquake victim by their loved ones strung around a tree by the memorial.
“Your two granddaughters miss you as well.”
On Wednesday morning, commuters on their way to work paused on the Montreal St bridge, looking out over the water to Oi Manawa.
IAIN McGREGOR/FAIRFAX NZ
A note for Matty Beaumont, who died in the CTV building, above his name on the memorial. It reads: “We think of you every day and miss you”.
Ceremony crowd member, city resident Jocelyn Smith, said: “It’s an extreme honour to the city and the people – to those who lost their lives or loved ones, and also to those who have served in the response and rebuild.”
Megan Reilly, also of Christchurch, said she really liked the fact the families were consulted about the memorial.
“It seems nice as a place of reflection,” she said.
IAIN McGREGOR/FAIRFAX NZ Bouquets left at the memorial, which is 112.5 metres long and made of concrete, clad in Italian marble.
The wall was revealed to families and friends of victims at a private ceremony on Tuesday.
Montreal St will be closed from Oxford Tce between 10am and 2.30pm, Cambridge Tce is closed until 6pm and Oxford Tce is closed until 2.30pm.
STACY SQUIRES/FAIRFAX NZ Early-morning sun at the CTV site on Wednesday.
Sourced from Stuff.co.nz. Link is here. MICHAEL WRIGHT, JACK FLETCHER AND SHAR DAVIS