A 'moderate' magnitude 3.8 earthquake gave Cantabrians an early morning wake-up call on the second anniversary of New Zealand's worst natural disaster.

The magnitude-3.7 aftershock, centred 10km east of Christchurch, woke some residents up to start a day remembering the death and destruction caused by the vicious mag-6.3 jolt that killed 185 people on February 22, 2011.

Some memorial events have already taken place across the recovering city this morning ahead of the main civic memorial event at noon in Latimer Square, near the CTV Building collapse site, where 115 people died.

Hundreds of flowers have been thrown into city waterways as part of the River of Flowers event, which locals use to to pay their respects to the fallen and injured and to reflect on the tumultuous last two years.


Workplaces, schools and races at Riccarton Park Raceway will stop for a moment's silence at 12.51pm, the time the magnitude-6.3 quake struck.

A two-minutes silence will be observed at several public places across the city, including at a memorial service, Avonside Remembers, at Wainoni Methodist Church.

The poignant pause will also occur at the one-hour civic remembrance in Latimer Square which was used as a makeshift triage centre on February 22.

Bereaved family members and seriously injured survivors will be joined by guests including Prime Minister John Key, Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker, politicians, senior officials from the emergency services, and dignitaries from Japan, Philippines, Israel, Turkey, Canada, China, UK, Taiwan, USA and Australia.

The service will open with a mihi whakatau Maori welcome, followed by the national anthem, a welcome from Mr Parker, readings and hymns, and conclude with a blessing from Anglican Bishop Victoria Matthews of the quake-damaged Christ Church Cathedral.

Afterwards, people will able to place floral tributes at a temporary memorial.