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Friday, March 11, 2011

World leaders may attend memorial

World leaders may attend memorial

Last updated 13:58 11/03/2011
Several world leaders may come to the Christchurch memorial service next week, Prime Minister John Key says.

He would not speculate on who they would be, but confirmed that Prince William will speak at the service in Hagley Park and that there would be another national moment of silence.

While only Canterbury would have a holiday to mark the event, Mr Key said he expected much of the nation would come to a standstill to watch the live television broadcast.

"You will find companies that will watch that service and take a few hours, and will get together and celebrate the preciousness of lives," he told reporters.

The holiday and the timing of the service has drawn criticism in Canterbury by some business owners, who say it is too early and comes as many are still struggling to pick up the pieces from the devastating quake.

He said the counter-factual was that there be no service at all to mark the 200 lives lost, the massive devastation and international help the country received.

"That is unacceptable to me and I think it would be unacceptable to most of the New Zealand public," he said.

"Long after the extra day pays has been forgotten, we will all remember the day we had the chance to say thank you and pay respect to those who lost their lives."

The wider context was that Canterbury was going to have a $20 billion rebuild.

One day will be spent "acknowledging in the precious nature of life" and Mr Key believed that was a day worth having.

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