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Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker has sent out a warning to the rest of New Zealand that they are not immune from the type of natural disaster that has struck his city this week.

The 7.1 magnitude earthquake that struck Canterbury on Sunday morning caused widespread damage and disruption, with particular damage to heart of Christchurch.

"If Christchurch isn't safe, then neither is every other town and every other settlement in New Zealand," Mr Parker said.

"My view is that this will ripple across the country as councils consider the impacts."

"Christchurch did not know it had a faultline coming like a spear into its heart from the west of the city, travelling across the (Canterbury) plains. In the subsequent days we have seen hundreds of earthquakes on the plains near the city and directly under suburbs in Christchurch."

"We now have new knowledge of the impact of seismic effects. And I would suggest what we have learnt could be applied to just about every township, every small city, every village, every community right across New Zealand."

Mr Parker said it had been deeply moving to see how Christchurch people had responded to the disaster.

"This city has acted in a generous, supportive and loving way. It has supported it's elderly, it's supported its vulnerable....students coming out helping clean up areas of the city, it's about volunteers and civil defence going beyond the call of duty (with) their own houses sometimes in ruins."

"It's been a magnificent example of where the human spirit can rise to."

"Our city will survive, it will persist, and it's going to grow back better than ever before with a massive injection of money."