The Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial was dedicated on 22 February 2017.

Earthquake Memorial

Media information – 22 February event

The National Dedication and Civic Memorial Service was held on 22 February 2017, at the Earthquake Memorial site. The Memorial is on the banks of Ōtākaro/ the Avon River between the Montreal Street Bridge and Durham Street and bordered by Oxford Terrace to the South.

The Order of Service can be downloaded here [PDF, 4.4 MB]

High resolution images, including a site map for public use can be downloaded from the image gallery.

Media release [PDF, 230 KB] 21 February 2017

Media release [PDF, 260 KB] 17 February 2017

Media release [PDF, 140 KB] 24 January 2017

Media contacts

Media contacts

Christchurch City Council

Ōtākaro Limited

The Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial

The Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial is a place for people to reflect on the devastating earthquakes that changed Canterbury and its communities forever, honouring those who lost their lives on 22 February 2011, acknowledging those who were seriously injured and everyone who helped in the rescue and recovery operation.

The Memorial is located in the central city of Christchurch, on the banks of Ōtākaro/ the Avon River between the Montreal Street Bridge and Durham Street and bordered by Oxford Terrace to the South.

The Memorial was designed by Slovenian architect Grega Vezjak. His design was selected out of more than 360 entries received from around the world in the ‘Call for Ideas to Remember’.

The Memorial is made up of a marble Memorial Wall on the south bank of the site, and a quieter green space on the north bank.

The names of the 185 people who lost their lives in the 22 February 2011 Earthquake are inscribed on the wall. The arrangement of the names has been guided by feedback from bereaved families. Many families asked for the names of their loved ones to be arranged to reflect relationships with other people who died. Where people were not connected to others who lost their lives, their names have been placed in a chance way, reflecting the random nature of the earthquake itself. 

The names are written as requested by the families. This includes preferred names, maiden names and middle names. All the names have been inscribed on the Memorial Wall in English. Seventy people also have their name inscribed in their first language.

The wall also has words of acknowledgement, recognising those who were seriously injured, the shared trauma of Cantabrians and its changed communities, and everyone who helped in the rescue and recovery operation in the days and weeks following the 22 February 2011 Earthquake.

The New Zealand Government has contributed $10 million to the project and $1 million has come from the Christchurch Earthquake Mayoral Relief Fund. 

Ōtākaro Limited, Christchurch City Council, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and the Ministry of Culture and Heritage have worked together to deliver the Memorial.

Memorial design process

In July 2011 Christchurch residents shared their visions and ideas for what they would like their rebuilt city to be in ‘Share an Idea’, an extensive public engagement campaign. Among the more than 106,000 ideas submitted were many comments on the need to have a memorial.

A number of sites were considered. The site was chosen because it is easily accessible and flexible, able to accommodate one person seeking quiet reflection or events with many people.

Feedback from families of people who died in the earthquake and those who were seriously injured showed a strong wish for the Memorial to incorporate water and greenery. This site fits well with these wishes, being on the banks of Ōtākaro/ the Avon River, with many well established trees.

The process to decide on a memorial design began with the ‘Ideas to Remember’ call for entries in July 2014. More than 330 submissions from 37 countries were received.

The submissions were shortlisted to six by an evaluation panel made up of arts professionals, experts in architecture and landscape architecture, and a bereaved family member participant.

The shortlisted designs were shared with bereaved families, the seriously injured and survivors of collapsed buildings, before being further developed.

The final six designs were shared with recovery leaders, bereaved family members, those seriously injured and survivors, first responder organisations of New Zealand, and the public in early 2015.

Based on the feedback from all these groups, and taking into account evaluation criteria aligned to the principles of the Memorial and technical requirements, the evaluation panel made a recommendation on their preferred design to the Memorial Leadership Group. This group is made up of the Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery, the Mayor of Christchurch, Kaiwhakahaere of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage. On 13 May 2015, Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Hon Gerry Brownlee announced The Memorial Wall, by Grega Vezjak, as the selected design for the Canterbury Earthquake Memorial.

The selected design was developed and evolved with involvement from the bereaved families and those seriously injured.

A Memorial shaped by many most impacted by the earthquakes

Bereaved families, those seriously injured and the survivors of the building collapses, First Responders, Embassies and partner agencies have been involved throughout the process of creating the memorial. Feedback from people in these groups was sought prior to milestones and decisions. Much care and consideration has been taken to make any requests for feedback or information sensitive and straightforward. Engagement with families on how they wanted their loved ones’ name to be on the wall has been extensive.

As many of those who lost their lives were from overseas, all information shared with bereaved families was translated into five languages (Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Japanese, Korean and Thai).

The Canterbury earthquakes

On 4 September 2010, the region of Canterbury was hit with a magnitude 7.0 earthquake centred 40 kilometres west of Christchurch. Thousands of aftershocks followed. The most damaging of the earthquakes was on 22 February 2011, a 6.3 magnitude shake centred just east of Christchurch, which devastated much of the city. This was one of New Zealand’s worst natural disasters - 185 people died and hundreds were seriously injured. More than 8000 households were permanently displaced by land damage, 90% of residential properties were damaged in some way, and 70% of the buildings in Christchurch’s Central Business District have had to be demolished.

The devastation caused by the February 2011 earthquake activated a national and international response. Christchurch police services were supplemented with personnel from around New Zealand and Australia, working with the New Zealand Defence Force. The New Zealand Fire Service coordinated search and rescue and other operations with teams from New Zealand and Australia, United Kingdom, USA, Japan, Taiwan, China and Singapore.

Humanitarian and medical support involved international help along with the New Zealand Red Cross and the Salvation Army. Neighbours helped neighbours, churches and community groups provided welfare support, and 11,000 students from The University of Canterbury Student Volunteer Army joined the Federated Farmers ‘Farmy Army’ to help residents remove over 200,000 tonnes of liquefaction silt.

The rebuild

The Christchurch Central Recovery Plan, or “Blueprint” was published in 2012, drawing on more than 100,000 community contributions through the ‘Share an Idea’ engagement process. The plan aimed to help Christchurch become a strong, resilient, vibrant and economically prosperous city again. Parts of the recovery plan are now being delivered through a mix of public and private sector investment.

Thousands of residential homes, commercial buildings and community facilities have now been repaired and rebuilt. The Bus Interchange, Hagley Oval, Margaret Mahy Playground and the Innovation Precinct have been completed in the central city, and the Christchurch Art Gallery repaired and re-opened. Other large scale public projects are in construction, including the Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial, the new Central Library, the Justice and Emergency Services Precinct, the Retail Precinct, Performing Arts Precinct, the Avon River Precinct and the rebuild of the Town Hall.

The SCIRT horizontal infrastructure programme charged with rebuilding the city’s earthquake damaged wastewater, storm water, fresh water systems, bridges, roads and retaining walls is 98% complete. More than 600km of wastewater pipe, 102 pump stations and more than 100 bridges have been repaired or replaced.

Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial Dedication Ceremony and Civic Memorial Service

The Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial (external link)  was dedicated on 22 February 2017 in a joint event with the annual Civic commemorative ceremony to mark the sixth anniversary of the deadly February 2011 earthquake. 

Visit the Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial Facebook (external link)  for more information on the Memorial, and see the image gallery below for images of the Memorial and the Dedication service.

Watch highlights (external link) of the service.

Watch the full service (external link) .

Image gallery

Select the image you want and it will automatically download to your computer. More gallery images will be added when available.