The Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial was opened to the public at the sixth anniversary commemoration event on 22 February 2017.

The memorial is a place to reflect on the 2010/2011 earthquakes that changed Greater Christchurch forever.

It pays respect to those who lost their lives, those who were seriously injured and survivors. The memorial also acknowledges the shared trauma and the support received during the response and recovery that followed.


Devastating shallow quake

Five months after a magnitude 7.1 earthquake, centred near Darfield southwest of Christchurch, an even more damaging quake struck on 22 February 2011. That shallow, 6.3 magnitude quake, in the Port Hills just 10 kilometres from the centre of Christchurch, caused the greatest ground acceleration ever recorded in New Zealand.

The earthquake claimed the lives of 185 people and injured many more. The quake sequence also caused significant psychological impact as people endured more than 11,000 aftershocks, while dealing with lost and damaged homes, disrupted communities and work places.

About 25,000 houses suffered serious damage and more than half of all buildings in the central city had to be demolished.

One memorial – two spaces

The Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial has been designed as two distinct areas either side of the gentle curve of the Ōtākaro/Avon River.

A park space on the north bank, with trees, seating and gardens looks across the river to the sunny memorial wall area on the south bank.

Joint project

The memorial development was a joint project between the New Zealand Government, Christchurch City Council and Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, the administrative body of the South Island iwi, Ngāi Tahu.

Ngāi Tahu has gifted the te reo Māori name for the memorial, Oi Manawa, which means ‘tremor or quivering of the heart’. It also refers to the shaking of earthquake tremors and is symbolic of the trauma experienced as a result of the earthquakes.

Ngāi Tahu has also blessed the memorial, along with sites where lives were lost in the earthquake.