Earthquake memorial

Tomorrow is the 6th anniversary of the Christchurch earthquake which killed 185 people. Today, families who lost one of those 185 people were invited to see the memorial wall. Tomorrow, at midday, it will be unveiled for the Christchurch public.

The wall is a curved marble wall, on the south bank of the river Avon near the centre of the city. It has the names of all 185 victims carved on it. The families were asked if they wanted the name of their loved one to be grouped with others so all those who died in the same place may be grouped together. Some names are together with friends and those with no connections are placed randomly to show that the victims were random.

Maple trees are planted to provide shade in the summer and colours in the autumn. At the start of the wall is a huge pounamu (greenstone) rock. This was provided by a West Coast Ngai Tahu tribe from their local river and carved by an expert carver from their tribe. It weighs 270kg and has a water feature carved in it. People can touch it and put their hands in the water.

The competition for a suitable memorial attracted 330 entries from all over the world. A team of people chose a short list of six. Two of these were New Zealanders; the others were from overseas. Then the people of Christchurch had a chance to look at these six designs and vote. The winning entry was from a young man from Slovenia, Greg Vezjak. He is in Christchurch at the moment with his family to be part of the ceremony tomorrow.

If you don’t know about the Christchurch earthquake, listen to Feb 21 2012 or Feb 26 2011 or type Christchurch earthquake in the search box.


• unveiled (adj) – the covers will come off it so that we can see it (think of a wedding veil)
• memorial (n)– a structure to remember people who died
• victims (n) – people who died, the families’ loved ones
• random (adj) randomly (adv)– no reason or pattern

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