Grieving father David Beaumont went to the opening of the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission of Inquiry yesterday with one wish.
He asked commission chairman Justice Mark Cooper to "find the truth" of the events of February 22 that claimed the life of his son Matthew.
"I think that's what we all want," Mr Beaumont told the Herald.
"If this commission can get the truth out of this tragedy, we can build our future on that."
Matthew Beaumont, 31 - a victim of the CTV building collapse - was one of 182 people who died when the February quake struck Christchurch. The commission is charged with finding out why those buildings failed and how to prevent such a tragedy happening again.
"We are never going to be perfect, by any means," Mr Beaumont said.
"But we can have better standards and better procedures, I believe."
His family was one of more than a dozen represented at the opening of the commission hearings yesterday, with Justice Mark Cooper commenting that many families were "still in the midst of grief".
"I hope the work of the royal commission will go some way to helping you deal with that grief," Justice Cooper told those at a ceremony to open the hearings.
The hearings are being held in the unusual setting of a community church hall because of the heavy toll the quakes have taken on the city's facilities.
Justice Cooper suggested it was fitting to have a community setting when the quakes had been a "community tragedy".
The names of all 182 victims were read aloud at the outset of yesterday's first hearing, and two minutes' silence was observed in honour of those who died.
Experienced lawyer Nigel Hampton, QC, representing the family of quake victim Tamara Cvetanov, said he would be raising issues around building collapse survival zones, escape tunnels and evacuation procedures.
Mrs Cvetanov spoke by cellphone with her husband, Srecko, on and off for almost three hours, while trapped in the collapsed CTV building before she died.
Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission of Inquiry
* Eleven public hearings will be held by the commission in Christchurch through to March next year. The first, which began yesterday, features experts on the science of seismic activity. The collapse of individual buildings will be examined in later hearings.
* The commission is made up of Justice Mark Cooper, Sir Ron Carter and Associate Professor Richard Fenwick. A final report must be delivered to the Government by April 11 next year.