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Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial

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Dec 15, 2021

The Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial (Māori: Oi Manawa[1]) is the Crown‘s official memorial for those killed or seriously injured in the 22 February 2011 Christchurch earthquake. It is located on both sides of the Avon River downstream from the Montreal Street bridge. The memorial opened on 22 February 2017, the sixth anniversary of the earthquake.

Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial

. . . Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial . . .

Memorial site

The memorial was one of the projects identified in the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan, commonly referred to as the Blueprint, released on 30 July 2012 by the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA). The Blueprint gave the first quarter of 2016 as the project finish date in its indicative time line.[2] The project was led by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, with project partners CERA, Christchurch City Council, and Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu.[3] The purpose of the memorial is described as follows in the Blueprint:[4]

185 empty chairs as installed in February 2012

A place where people can spend time in reflection and honour those who lost their lives or were injured in the earthquakes will be developed in central Christchurch. The national Earthquake Memorial will be a place of local, national and international significance where individuals can reflect and large groups can gather. Because this is such a significant project, it should begin early, not be rushed and involve the community and families of those who died.

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, [5]

At the time the Blueprint was released, an informal earthquake memorial, 185 empty chairs, had already been created by local artist Peter Majendie. However, it was expected that it was to be an installation for the short term only.[6]

The site for the official memorial, both sides of the Avon River downstream from where Montreal Street crosses the river, was revealed in July 2014 as part of the design brief.[7] The following site description was given as part of the brief:[lower-alpha 1]

The site for the memorial is on a stretch of Ōtākaro / Avon River, between the Montreal Street bridge and Rhododendron Island. As part of the development of Avon River Precinct, Oxford Terrace (to the south of the river) will be reduced in scale and become a shared street where pedestrians have priority. This means the river bank can be contoured on this side, as part of the design of the memorial. This bank is sunny and sheltered, and has an amphitheatre form. The opposite river bank is relatively flat, large and open. The overall area of the site is about 9,800 square metres (105,000 sq ft). The main riverside parkland area is about 60 by 30 metres (197 ft × 98 ft). For large events, a crowd of around 2,000 could fit on the site. If roads were closed around the site, this number could be increased considerably. The site connects to the inner city via a pathway through mature plane trees, leading towards the Bridge of Remembrance, and to the west along Ōtakaro / Avon River to the Botanic Gardens and Hagley Park.

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, [8]

. . . Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial . . .

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. . . Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial . . .