Former Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker's pleased with how far the city has come five years on, but admits there is still a long road ahead.
Today marks the fifth anniversary of the first big earthquake, and the start of events which forever changed the city's landscape and lives of thousands of Cantabrians.
The magnitude 7.1 quake claimed no lives, but was the first of more than 10,000 shakes over the next couple of years.
On reflection, Sir Bob says a great deal has been achieved.
"The scale of what we've had to work through as a city is pretty extraordinary, beyond anybody's expectations for sure," he says.
Sir Bob admits progress on key anchor projects has been slower than expected.
Prime Minister John Key acknowledges there's still a long road ahead in the city's recovery, but says the Government remains committed to the people of Canterbury.
"We're now into that regenerate phase, and I think that's going to pay real dividends. As somebody who regularly visits here I can see the progress that's been made, but I also understand their frustrations and we're genuinely doing everything that we can."
A group of residents gathered at New Brighton Beach for a dawn service.
"It's good to be together with other people," one attendee told 3 News. "It's something we experienced separately in our homes, but we all experienced this event simultaneously."
Mayor Lianne Dalziel spoke to the crowd, saying the quakes had brought people together as a community.
"I think that we are seeing real signs of recovery now," she told the Paul Henry programme. "There are people who obviously are still stuck, and it is for them that my heart really does go out. We've got to find solutions for that, and as we are talking to central Government about regeneration, then maybe it's a time to call a halt to some of the process that have really gone on too long."
A number of other events are planned throughout the day in the Canterbury region.
Meanwhile, a Government-appointed consultant has being brought in to help sort out the impasse over the quake-damaged ChristChurch Cathedral.
Anglican leaders want the building partially demolished, but the Great Christchurch Building Trust wants the old cathedral to be fully restored.
Church spokesman Jayson Rhodes says the consultant will sit down with both parties, and Building Trust chairman Jim Anderton is "very positive" about the move.
Mr Rhodes says without the mediation, legal action would have been on the cards.
"This gives us a way forward. This gives a chance for an independent assessment and a report to be made. We see that as a real step forward."
The Government has offered to cover the cost of the consultation process.
3 News / RadioLIVE