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Tauranga's Mayor Stuart Crosby will be representing the city at today's Christchurch Earthquake Memorial Service at Hagley Park.
The two-hour service to pay a tribute to the victims of the earthquake includes a two minute silence at 12.51pm - 24 days to the minute after the quake which caused widespread destruction and loss of life in Christchurch and Lyttelton.
Mr Crosby said the message he had got from talking to lots of people was that it was hard to fully understand the devastation until you had been to Christchurch and seen it for yourself.
As well as representing Tauranga, he will be offering his support to Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker. "The first earthquake was bad enough, but to go through two required a lot of intestinal fortitude - he has done a superb job."
Nation gathers to pay tribute
New Zealanders turned their thoughts to Christchurch today, as the city remembered the victims of last month's earthquake
The national memorial service was due to be held in Hagley Park from noon, to mark the disaster - a 6.3-magnitude earthquake on February 22 - that ripped the city apart and claimed about 180 lives.
Prime Minister John Key, and a number of high-level dignitaries from around the globe, including Prince William and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, were due to attend. Christchurch's Anglican bishop, Victoria Matthews, who led the service, said yesterday it would give people not only the opportunity to remember those who died, but also a chance to mourn the "death of a city".
The first focus of the service was commemorating those who died and their families, Bishop Matthews said.
As part of mourning what had been lost, a "stark and shocking" video of the destruction caused by the quake was due to be shown to the crowd in Hagley Park.
Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said the service was an opportunity for all in the city to stand together and grieve.
During the day, which is also a public holiday for the residents of the city, singers Hayley Westenra, Dame Malvina Major and Dave Dobbyn will perform.
Events are also taking place in Auckland, Wellington, Hamilton and Dunedin, and New Zealanders empathising with the devastated city have so far raised millions to help its recovery / NZPA