Politicians have paid tribute to the innovation, patience, courage and ruggedness of Cantabrians on the one-year anniversary of the first major quake in Canterbury.
The first anniversary of the September 4 quake is a time to reflect on the unprecedented events which have spilled well beyond Canterbury to touch all New Zealanders over the past year, according to Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee.
"The 7.1 magnitude earthquake which struck at 4:35am on 4 September was not only the largest quake to strike this country near a major population in almost 80 years, it also kicked off a series of seismic events the likes of which hasn't been seen anywhere else in the world."
"We've come a long way since that day, through some very dark and trying times, but thanks to the help of New Zealanders up and down the country, and many generous souls offshore, we are making real progress."
He commended the people of Canterbury on their "passionate commitment" to the region and their willingness to contribute to its future.
"The innovation shown by business owners and their staff, allowing for continuity of activity and minimal job loss, is a tribute to the entrepreneurial spirit of the city's business leaders and workforce.
"And the ongoing patience of those Cantabrians living in badly damaged properties deserves special recognition on this anniversary day," Mr Brownlee said.
Labour leader Phil Goff said 4 September 4 2010 had become a defining date for hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders.
"That day changed the lives of so many Kiwis living in Canterbury, and also had an irreversible impact on the outlook and psyche of New Zealanders wherever they live.
"The Boxing Day quake and then the deadly quake of 22 February this year destroyed much of Christchurch's most outstanding heritage architecture, and caused a grievous loss of life.
Mr Goff said the quakes could have caused a devastating blow to Christchurch's morale from which the city and region was unable to recover.
"That it hasn't done so is remarkable in itself, and says an enormous amount for the individual courage and ruggedness of Cantabrians."
The one-year anniversary will be marked tonight in Christchurch, with the 'White Lights of Hope' to be switched on after a small service outside the Cathedral.
The idea was dreamed up by the wife of Christchurch identity Jason Gunn, who will be throwing the switch at around 6:45pm.
Christchurch's tough year will also be recognised tomorrow when Cabinet meets in the city - the first time it has met outside Wellington for 16 years.
Cabinet will receive a series of briefings from local government and other stakeholders on how the recovery is progressing.
- HERALD ONLINE