Anna Leask is senior police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Quake - a year on: 'Angel-like' butterflies fitting tribute to dad

Cameron Lucas, 8, and brother Tyler, 6, release the butterflies yesterday. Photo / Greg Bowker
Cameron Lucas, 8, and brother Tyler, 6, release the butterflies yesterday. Photo / Greg Bowker

Monarch butterflies remind Cameron Lucas of angels.

And because he reckons his dad is now with the angels, releasing butterflies at the end of yesterday's quake memorial was a fitting tribute for the 8-year-old.

Cameron and his brother Tyler Bishop-Ward, 6, lost their father on February 22 last year. Andrew "Bish" Bishop died when the Canterbury Television building collapsed.

The boys, wearing T-shirts they had asked for specially with the CTV logo on the back, stood together in front of thousands of people yesterday and opened the lids of small gold boxes, freeing vivid orange and black monarchs into the sky above Hagley Park.

After the ceremony Cameron told the Herald what he was thinking about as he made the moving gesture - which also symbolised the future.

"I was thinking about all the funny things my stepdad did," he said. "The butterflies remind me of angels ... angels with wings."

Tyler was overwhelmed by the emotions of the day, but thought his dad would have been happy with him.

Mr Bishop's partner Amber Lucas said the day had been hellish.

"Today was the last day of the firsts. Bish was my best friend and I feel lost without him. I miss him often," she said.

"Today with the kids the butterflies were a reminder there is new life and hope. Bish will never be forgotten, but we can ... honour his memory and live life as he would have."

In total 185 monarchs were released by eight quake-affected children.

Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae said each butterfly represented one person who died, "a soul departed".

He likened the rebuild of Christchurch to the lifecycle of a butterfly, growing from a cocoon to a vibrant and strong creature.

Mr Bishop's younger brother Ben Bishop, a firefighter, spoke for the first time about his own quake experience. He was in his car in central Christchurch when the quake hit.

He abandoned the car and ran into the CBD to see if anyone needed help. He came across a building that had been destroyed and spent about four hours there helping rescuers.

"I had no idea at the time, but it was the CTV building. I had no idea my brother was trapped in there."

- NZ Herald

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