No-one will forget the suffering the Christchurch earthquake caused, Jacinda Ardern has told people at the 10th anniversary memorial service for the disaster.
Ardern said February 22, 2011, when 185 were killed in the earthquake, would still feel like yesterday for so many.
“The earthquake and aftershocks affected people in complex and diverse ways.
"The toll could not have been more significant, and daily reminders made it harder – a fractured landscape, aftershocks, struggling friends and neighbours, and children with deep and unseen scars,” she said.
“Ten years on there will be people still living their daily lives with the long shadow of that day.”
The Prime Minister offered reassurance to those still feeling overwhelmed or anxious, or those still dealing with grief.
“Today I want to take the opportunity to say to all those who may still feel overwhelmed, uncertain, sad, tired or anxious - you survived an event which by rights should not occur in anyone’s lifetime.”
"I hope you find the space to be kind to yourself, as you’ve no doubt been to others who you knew were carrying the same burden.
"To those who lost loved ones, the grief has been even more immense.
"It’s the Kiwi way to be stoic, and sometimes the pressure to ‘be okay’ or to have ‘moved on’ with the passage of time can feel very pronounced, but healing takes time, and even as time has passed, none of us will forget."
The 10th anniversary of the quake was an opportunity to celebrate the 185 people who died in the quake, Ardern said.
“Today we not only mark the loss of 185 lives, but we remember and celebrate those people - the joy they gave, the memories made, the lives they lived.”
Ardern acknowledged several groups, including the children of Christchurch, who had grown up in the “long shadow of that day”, which she called “the generation of the rebuild”.
“I’d like to acknowledge the children who lived through the earthquake and grew up in its aftermath.”
“Some of these children will be teenagers now, or have left school and started jobs or university. I have in the past called this the generation of the rebuild, but they are also the generation that will create a legacy,” she said.
“I want to acknowledge all those who were part of relief efforts on or after February 22 - emergency service staff, the Christchurch mayor and city councilors, ministers, international diplomats and family and friends of all involved.”
"I want to acknowledge all past and present members of the Quake Families Trust, which has provided such significant support over the last decade, and helped shape the annual commemorations.”
Her final acknowledgment was reserved for the families of the 87 foreigners who died, who couldn’t travel to Christchurch because of Covid restrictions.
“Our flags fly at half-mast for them today too,” she said.
In wrapping up her speech, Ardern said she could see optimism in Christchurch for the years ahead.
“It’s been a hugely difficult decade for this city - at times I’m sure it’s felt impossible, but as we look ahead to the coming decade, I see hope and energy and optimism, and I see Christchurch taking its rightful place amongst New Zealand’s best and brightest cities.”