The tragedy of the Pacific tsunami has deeply affected all of New Zealand, Prime Minister John Key said yesterday.

People from across the community met in the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, Parnell, to remember those who lost their lives. Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand, Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Saielel Malielegaoi and Tongan Prime Minister Feleti Sevele joined clergy from several Christian denominations.

Mr Key gave his condolences on behalf of all New Zealanders: "It [the tsunami] tore families apart and changed forever the lives of thousands more." From the horrors of the disaster he had seen the determination of the Samoan, Tongan and American Samoan people shine through.

Mr Key said the Pacific community would work hard to rebuild. "But other scars won't heal so quickly."

He said the responsibility of grieving friends and relatives was to cherish and celebrate the lives of those who had been lost.

The sinking of the Princess Ashika ferry in Tonga was also not far from people's thoughts.

"This has been a disaster of a year for our Pacific neighbours," said the Rev Ross Bay. The church offered its thoughts and support to all those affected, especially New Zealand citizens and their relatives who were killed.

The service was filmed for broadcast across the Pacific.

While many people were at Holy Trinity to remember those who died, the numbers might not have been as high as expected. The cathedral had set up a large screen and provided extra seats outdoor, but these remained empty.

Earlier in the day, the Samoan Prime Minister thanked New Zealanders who had contributed $315,000 to an appeal organised by the Pacific Co-operation Foundation, Samoan Advisory Council and Westpac bank.

Tuilaepa said the amount was very generous and would go towards reconstruction efforts, including paying for roads and infrastructure in the new settlements that had sprung up on higher ground as residents refused to return to destroyed beachside villages.

Tuilaepa said his Government had estimated that over the next two to three years it might have to borrow 70 per cent of the estimated 370 million tala ($180 million) clean-up cost.