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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Christchurch earthquake service 'a chance to reflect, look forward'

Christchurch earthquake service 'a chance to reflect, look forward'

Last updated 05:00 16/03/2011
About 300 family members of Christchurch quake victims are expected to join tens of thousands at a national memorial service on Friday.

The Christchurch City Council, which is organising the event with the Government, has asked the public to prepare for long queues at Hagley Park, with central-city cordons and sewerage problems affecting road access and toilet facilities.

The Government has declared a provincial holiday to allow residents to attend the service.

Deputy Mayor Ngaire Button said the service would give Cantabrians a chance to "push pause" and reflect.

"Everybody has been really busy in one way or another, but I think it's time to stop everything and reflect on what we've lost," she said.

Button acknowledged the quake victims would be the focus, but she hoped the memorial would provide an opportunity to look forward.

"I hope it's not just sadness for the lives which we have lost, but also a celebration of life as well. We're still a great city, still a beautiful city, and we can recover."

People have been asked to gather at North Hagley Park by noon, with the service starting at 12.30pm.

The two-hour service, to be led by the dean of Christ Church Cathedral, Peter Beck, will include two minutes silence at 12.51pm, the time of the February 22 earthquake.

The crowd will hear tributes from Prince William, Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand, Prime Minister John Key and Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker.

There will also be performances by Hayley Westenra, who will sing the national anthem, Dame Malvina Major, and Dave Dobbyn.

A council spokeswoman said about 300 family members of quake victims would be seated in a special area.

People could bring a picnic lunch and non-alcoholic refreshments, as well as rugs or cushions.

However, there would be an alcohol ban The council hopes residents will bike or walk to the service, while free buses will be available. Limited parking will be available in North Hagley Park and South Hagley Park.

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