A coastal town's war memorial has partially crumbled in the Canterbury earthquake, leaving descendants of dead soldiers and the wider community shattered.

The central landmark in Akaroa, on the Banks Peninsula, was badly damaged, leaving it in need of a $100,000 repair and renovation.

Unlike most war memorials around the country, Akaroa's is owned by a community trust, not by the council or the RSA.

Banks Peninsula War Memorial Society chairman Jim Coubrough said the community felt a proud sense of ownership over the memorial.

"For something so beautiful and reverend, to see it shattered like that has an impact on the community. A lot of people have descendants here. It's a pillar of the community. It's quite a disturbing thing to see," Mr Coubrough said.

Local resident Stephen Le Lievre, whose ancestor is memorialised by the now-crumbling structure, said it was hard to see it broken.

"It's like our history is sort of disappearing," Mr Le Lievre said.

The War Memorial Society had previously commissioned reports that found the memorial needed serious renovation to protect it.

The society was in the process of planning the renovation when the earthquake hit.

Although the memorial was insured, the community will need to embark on major fundraising for its repair and renovation to return the landmark to its former glory.

The worst-case scenario is every stone will have to be removed and put back with fresh mortar. Water has seeped inside the structure and the stones are falling apart.

The memorial was finished in the 1920s, after years of work done by a solitary stonemason.

Apart from the war memorial, Akaroa's hospital has been damaged by the earthquake and has closed temporarily until its chimneys are secured.

Tom Babe, owner of the Turenne Dairy, said the town was distressed by the damage caused by last week's earthquake.

"We've all had a gutsful of it. We could handle just one big kick, but not all these aftershocks."

Residents were struggling to sleep - every morning, locals flooded the shop for coffee, and it had almost run out. The store is almost out of cigarettes as well.