Dawn service held in Hagley Park

9:11 pm on 25 April 2011

The Anzac Day dawn service in Christchurch has been held in North Hagley Park at a specially-built cenotaph near a lone oak.

It was the scene of the memorial service for those who died in the earthquake on 22 February.


Services were held in the park and at Christ's College, instead of the Cathedral Square in the badly damaged central city.

The cenotaph was topped by a cross made from timber from the Cathedral, gifted to the city by members of the Australian Urban Search and Rescue team who worked in the city after the quake.

RSA president Russ Barron said that as far as he is aware, it was the first time the service has not been held in Cathedral Square.

About 7000 people attended the 7am service, including Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand, Air Commodore Kevin Short, Mayor Bob Parker, MPs and the Dean of the Christchurch Cathedral.

Mr Parker says the service held extra emotion because of the location in the park, where birds flying overhead and echoes of hymns and the gun salute off the trees were particularly beautiful.

Being away from the central city made the service particularly poignant and gave the Anzac spirit more meaning, he says.

Sir Anand told those gathered the past two years have been a time of sorrow and trouble for New Zealand and Australia.

He said alongside the grief, has been the care and compassion of New Zealanders and an affirmation of what connects New Zealanders.

The RSA says the crowd was smaller than most years, but it was still a good size, given the weather and the fact the Anzac Day also fell on Easter Monday.