A year has passed since Leila MacKinnon learned of her daughter's death following a magnitude 7.8 earthquake on the Kaikoura Coast.

Jo-Anne MacKinnon, 55, was killed in her Mt Lyford home after receiving a head injury caused by the quake's power.

She was one of two people killed during the November 14, 2016 earthquake.

Jo-Anne's 82-year-old mother was finally able to farewell her daughter at today's anniversary of the quake, having not been able to attend the original funeral due to her age and the region's blocked roads.


Leila MacKinnon was joined by around 250 others at a dawn service and blessing led by te Rūnanga o Kaikōura at the restored South Bay Marina this morning.

As the sole family member present of either of the two quake victims, she had a special role when she laid flowers at a whale bone memorial, accompanied by Kaikoura Mayor Winston Gray.

Despite having been in Christchurch during the disaster, Leila MacKinnon recalled the day of the quake with heartbreaking clarity to Herald Focus reporter Tristram Clayton.

"It is like unreal. I was up on my own and it wouldn't stop. It went on and on and I have never noticed it before so long, it wouldn't stop," she said.

"I got a chair and sat with the telephone and it wouldn't stop, the rocking, rocking, rocking."

MacKinnon spoke of her concern for her daughter as the hours passed following the quake.

"I kept saying Jo-Anne for goodness sake ring me, ring me, ring me but nothing happened. Nobody rang me."

She recalled the moment her granddaughter, Jo-Anne's daughter, burst through the back door and said her mother was dead.

An autopsy finding by forensic pathologist Johan Duflou later stated the death was caused by "blunt force head injury [earthquake fatality]".

MacKinnon said she has lived with her daughter's death "day after day", but found some relief in today's service.

"It was so amazing and it was a beautiful service. I met so many people that knew me but I was gathering them up," she said. "It was lovely."

The family also planned to hold a private ceremony at Jo-Anne's grave later today.

Gray told the Herald it had been "a tough old year" for the region.

"It's going to take some time to recover."