Memorial design

The Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial has been designed so that the two key spaces are integrated – the reflective space on the north bank and the memorial wall area on the south bank

The north bank area is an attractive park with large trees, seating and a view across the Ōtākaro/Avon River to the memorial wall area, which in turn is a sheltered place of remembrance, close to water, looking across to the park, says memorial designer, Grega Vezjak.

“The experience of the memorial can be viewed as a journey. A place to remember and to find peace – a place of past and future.

“If you enter the memorial from the city end, you pass the beautiful kōhatu pounamu and descend down the ramp, leaving the hustle of the city at the street level to enter a quieter space. On the sunny terrace, with the sound of the river, you can take in the memorial wall or sit among trees and mourn or reflect. This is a sheltered and serene place that bereaved family and friends, and others impacted by the earthquakes, can experience in peace.”

Grega says the proximity to the river is important. “The design provides a connection to the water, symbolic of life and its infinite nature. This was achieved by leaving the street area at its level, cutting into the earth and erecting a wall that enables a memorial place close to the water.

“Although this is a place of sadness it is also a place of beauty, graced by the gentle river flow, full sun and the delicate shadows cast by trees. The space is also a celebration of life. I hope that with its shape and space, the memorial invites and embraces people from near and far, bringing them together for remembrance.”

The memorial design was chosen from more than 330 submissions that stemmed from a call for ‘Ideas to Remember’.