PM announces memorial service for 18 March

8:48 am on 8 March 2011

A national memorial service is to be held on Friday 18 March for the victims of the Christchurch earthquake, Prime Minister John Key has announced.

The service, to be televised, will be held in North Hagley Park at 12.45pm and the day will be a provincial holiday in Canterbury.

Mr Key says the memorial service will allow people the chance to reflect on the terrible loss of life suffered as a result of the quake, and the impact it has had on New Zealand's second-biggest city.

He has also asked that flags on government buildings be raised from half mast at 12.51 on Tuesday, exactly two weeks after the 6.3-magnitude quake in which at least 166 people have died, including English language students and others from overseas.

Though it is possible leaders from other countries will attend the service, it is too early to know at this stage, he says.

The Anglican Bishop in Christchurch says the memorial service is a time for people to collectively grieve and say goodbye.

Victoria Matthews says other faith representatives will be involved in the running of the service.

Mayor plans walk in CBD

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker hopes to coordinate a walk through the central business district also on 18 March.

Mr Parker says the walk will be important for people to understand what the central city looks like, so the community can move on.