Christchurch quake anniversary: Mayor Lianne Dalziel prepares to make apology

The Christchurch Mayor wants the city to be used as an example for championing change nine years since the February 2011 earthquake, as she prepares to make a public apology for the council's failings.

Since the devastating natural disaster Christchurch has struggled to get back on its feet, leaving people with insurance battles and in recovery mode for almost a decade.

Lianne Dalziel says the magnitude 6.3 quake, which killed 185 people, sparked urgent changes to industries.

"How we deal with earthquake-prone buildings, how we address some of the challenges we have in a recovery sense - for example, in insurance we've seen changes."

Lianne Dalziel.
Lianne Dalziel. Photo credit: The AM Show

She says February 22 will never be the same for some people.

"There are people who just experience such loss that this day will always be a reminder for them of what they've lost." 

Dalziel on Sunday will make a public apology to the families of those who died. Most the victims - 115 - were killed when the CTV building collapsed. An inquiry found designers, engineers and the Christchurch City Council had all made errors which contributed to its failure. 

"You may be aware that as the Mayor of Christchurch, I have wanted to make this formal apology for a long time," she wrote in a letter to the families.

"I am acutely aware of the time it has taken to get to this point. I am also acutely aware that an apology is not something that every bereaved family member or person who was injured has indicated is important to them. However, I wanted to offer this invitation to everyone."

A public service will be held at the Oi Manawa Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial site at 12:30pm. A delegation from Japan is expected - 12 of those killed in the CTV collapse were Japanese students.

Dalziel says she is starting to see vibrancy coming back into the city now, but there is still more to be done. The next step is getting people to move back into town.

"We're starting to see quite a strong recovery in terms of retail and hospitality in the central city."

Former Mayor remembers the months of quakes

Sir Bob Parker, Mayor when the quakes hit, says people need to remember it was not just one quake.

"We didn't just have one terrifying earthquake - it was hour after hour, then day and after day, then week after week. Earthquakes would come, rescues would have to stop, building programmes would have to stop, so there was a lot of pressure on us all."

Since the magnitude 7 quake which hit in 2010, with no fatalities, there have been more than more than 21,000 aftershocks, according to the Christchurch Quake Map website.

Sir Bob says everyone who was there will never forget it for as long as they live.

"I think about the quakes every day, and I think a lot of us do. You can't escape the emotions that were stirred on that day - the terror, the fear of loss of life, the injuries, the destruction - I don't think it will ever leave us."

He says the rate which the city has come back to life has been extraordinary.

"We went through kind of a warzone, but as a city we came through it. We stood together. I'm really proud to be part of half-a-million people looking after each other and now rebuilding a city."