An emotional church service was too much for the Kaikoura mayor who teared up while telling the crowd to stay strong.

Around 200 people gave up their usual morning at church to come together at the non-denominational service to sing, laugh and cry. Children, the elderly and everyone inbetween sat out in the bright sunshine to take comfort in being together.

Reverend Kevin Topp opened the service with a prayer and remarked on some of the incredible stories people had told him. One woman only had an old cellphone that hardly worked. So her daughter organised a new one to be helicoptered to her. When the chopper landed and the pilot walked over with her package the woman realised it was Richie McCaw holding her new phone, Topp said.

"It made her day. It made her earthquake. In fact I think she's asking for more."

Advertisement

Kaikoura mayor Winston Gray was in tears as he told the crowd to be strong "kia kaha".

"I am honoured to represent such a strong community."

The people of Kaikoura at an open-air church service incorporating all faiths today as the town starts to recover from Monday morning's huge earthquake. Photo / Alan Gibson
The people of Kaikoura at an open-air church service incorporating all faiths today as the town starts to recover from Monday morning's huge earthquake. Photo / Alan Gibson

He made a point to express his sympathy to the Edgar and MacKinnon families who each had a relative perish in the quake.

"We remember you today and will continue to hold you in our thoughts."

Kaikoura MP Stuart Smith thanked the community for their positive and loving spirit.

"It's not what happens to us in life. It's how we react to it."

He's had offers of support and help from many people in Parliament and which made him realise "New Zealand has got your back".

As people lowered their arms from singing How Great Thou Art a woman cried out "three cheers for Kaikoura" - the crowd responded in kind with three great whoops of joy.

The funeral for Jo-Anne Mackinnon will be held on Wednesday at 10.45 in the old part of the cemetery.