The final inscribed marble panel on the front of the Memorial Wall has been placed.
The Memorial Wall forms part of the Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial, a space on the banks of the Ōtākaro/Avon River where people can reflect on the events that changed Canterbury forever - paying respect to the 185 people who lost their lives on 22 February 2011, those who were seriously injured and those who came to help.
The title panel, which reads “Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial” gives people a sense of what the Memorial Wall will look like when it is dedicated for use on 22 February 2017.
The names of those who lost their lives in the earthquake and supporting text will remain covered until construction is complete and the bereaved families can view the finished site at a private blessing ceremony.
The Memorial Wall is made up of 517 panels of Italian marble covering a concrete base wall. The names have been carefully sandblasted onto 21 panels, and the panels placed on the wall over the past two months.
“People felt it was important that this inscription work be done in New Zealand and because there are no machines here capable of it, it had to be done by hand using an intricate sandblasting technique. It means every letter of every name inscribed into the veined marble is unique,” says Ōtākaro Limited Chief Executive Albert Brantley.
Ōtākaro Limited, Christchurch City Council, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and the Ministry of Culture and Heritage have worked closely with families, those who were severely injured and first responders through the development of the design for the Memorial.
The 185 names of those who lost their lives have been placed in four horizontal lines that span 40 metres of the Memorial 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. There are eight languages other than English or Te Reo Māori on the Memorial Wall.
“There are variations in the way that the names are written. This individualised way of remembering adds to the meaning and significance for family members. We are very grateful to the bereaved families for working with us to ensure their loved one’s name is written correctly,” says Mr Brantley.
Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Chief Executive Officer Arihia Bennett says the memorial will be a place where people can reflect on and honour those who lost their lives, or were injured in the earthquakes.
"This will be a place of national and international significance and Ngāi Tahu is honoured to have had a role in the naming of the memorial," she says.
"The memorial will have a key role in further connecting the many diverse strands of the international community, who came together to face the immediate changes during and after the earthquakes."
Mayor of Christchurch Lianne Dalziel says she is pleased the Memorial will be ready for next year’s commemorative service to mark the sixth anniversary of the 22 February Earthquake, “It will be a special place for us all,” she says.
Fletcher Construction and Brian Perry Civil began work on the Earthquake Memorial in November 2015. The next few months will see the remaining panels placed, basalt pavers laid and lighting installed.
The Crown has contributed $10 million dollars to the project and $1 million has come from the Christchurch Earthquake Mayoral Relief Fund