The Christchurch Wizard at the national Christchurch earthquake memorial service
They came in their thousands, the family, friends and loved ones of those killed in the Christchurch quake, to be told that "grief is the price we pay for love".
Prince William's beautiful, simple words, echoed across Hagley Park today as the country stopped to remember the terrible devastation brought by the quake which struck at 12.51pm on February 22.
They gave rescue workers attending a rousing standing ovation before the service started and talked among themselves about their own experiences.
The ceremony officially began with a Maori warrior blowing on a conch shell, stirring the crowd to attention.
Prince William,(above) wearing a korowai given to him by Ngai Tahu especially for the service, was joined by other dignitaries including Prime Minister John Key and his wife, Bronagh, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, the Governor-General Anand Satyanand and his wife, Susan, Mayor Bob Parker and his wife, Jo Nicholls-Parker, and Labour leader Phil Goff.
However, the ceremony was firmly all about the people of Christchurch.
Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker, speaking passionately and without notes, said "we had to dedicate ourselves" to rebuilding a place where people and businesses could prosper.
"We have to have faith in ourselves. We have to remember that we have to have the things that were given to us and our children and their children... we have to have the self belief to build the safest city so this never happens again.
"We will rebuild the shattered suburban fabric. We will have a city that will again be the most beautiful city on the planet to live. That is our goal."
Parker said people had to take inspiration from those who had died and build a great memorial to them.
"Their lives have to be given real meaning."
He said no one "among us can comprehend the rhythms of life and death that have swept across city".
Prince William followed Parker and his speech, while short, hit just the right note.
He said the people of Christchurch were an "inspiration" to all.
"I count myself extremely privileged to be here."
He had heard tales of extraordinary bravery and courage and said the Queen sent her heartfelt condolences.
"My grandma once said that grief is the price we pay for love. Here today we love and grieve."
"Kia kaha, be strong," he said to end his speech.
2.32pm: Hayley Westenra performs an impromtu Pokarekare Ana at the end of the service.
2.28pm: Floral tributes are laid by dignatories in memory of the Christchurch quake victims.
Dignatories include Prince William, the Governor-general and Lady Susan Satyanand, Prime Minister John Key and his wife Bronagh Key.
Prince William then moves into the crowd to meet families of victims.
2.24pm: The crowd stands for a stirring national anthem.
The anthem is led by Timua Brennan, Laurence Munday, Dame Malvina Major and Hayley Westenra.
2.19pm: A video representing the "birth of hope for the future of Christchurch" is shown.
The audience rises to show their appreciation.
2.16pm: The ChristChurch Cathedral Choir sings at the service.
2.15pm: The Catholic Bishop of Christchurch, Most Reverend Barry Jones, gives the final blessing.
2.14pm: Verses of consolation are given by various leaders.
2.08pm: Everyone in Christchurch lost something, or someone, special to them, Rev Matthews says.
2.06pm: Right Reverend Victoria Matthews reflects on the time the quake struck, on February 22.
It will be a day remembered in Christchurch's history, and survivors will tell stories about what they were doing at 12.51pm, Matthews, the Anglican Bishop of Christchurch, says.
2.03pm: Dame Malvina Major and Patrick Manning sing Pie Jesu before a quiet crowd.
People reflect during the national Christchurch earthquake memorial service.
2.00pm: Prayers are read in English and Maori to represent the Baha'i faith.
1.58pm: The Hindu community expresses sympathy to the families of those who lost loved ones.
1.56pm: A Christian prayer is read, where comfort is sought for Christchurch people.
1.53pm: Jewish community says traditional prayer for all those lost in the quake, saying together we are strong.
1.50pm: Muslim community expresses its deepest sympathy to those killed in the quake.
Muslim leader says this is our time to stand side-by-side in Christchurch.
1.48pm: Representatives of the Buddhist community chanted in honour of those who died.
1.47pm: Reverend Peter Beck introduces people of different faiths to say their prayers for victims of the quake.
1.42pm: Christchurch's Hayley Westerna sings Amazing Grace to silent memorial crowd.
1.39pm: Reverend Victoria Matthews says we should remember those suffering in Japan.
Salvation Army Major Clive Nicholson thanks all rescue staff and the people of Christchurch.
The Lord's prayer is said.
1.34pm: Emotions in Christchurch memorial crowd well up as How Great Thou Art is sung.
1.32pm: Student army leader Sam Johnson and Patsy Te Are light flame to signify presence of God at memorial.
1.30pm: Dame Malvina Major sings stirring rendition of You'll Never Walk Alone.
1.29pm: Labour leader Phil Goff says there remains hope as "we have the commitment and vision to rebuild".
1.26pm: Labour leader Phil Goff says Christchurch was ''changed forever'' by the events of February 22.
''For all those here we will never forget that experience. Seeing the trauma it caused, the anxiety as people tried to call their husbands and wives, children and friends.'
''The eerie silence of the central city behind the cordon where time stopped at 12.51pm.
''Today we grieve for you who have lost your family and friends... all taken before their time.''
1.18pm: Legendary Kiwi musician Dave Dobbyn sings his track Loyal to a hushed crowd.
1.16pm: Prime Minister John Key says since February 22 New Zealanders have shown their truly brilliant qualities.
1.14pm: Prime Minister John Key says the country has rallied magnificently since the quake.
He thanked Prince William and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard for their support at the memorial.
Key also lauded all those who had helped in the aftermath of the quake.
"We are indebted. On behalf of all New Zealanders, I thank you."
The crowd applauds loudly.
1.12pm: Prime Minister John Key says the Christchurch quake has left ''scars on our hearts''.
''Above all we remember those whose lives were taken. There is no justification for their deaths. We must join their families and loved ones in remembering them.
''Our hearts go out particularly to their children, friends and family.
''We do not know the pain you do, but we are here for you.''
Key said we were united with people from 20 countries who had loved ones killed.
''Your family members have become part of the story of this city and the country.''
''Let us remember them, they are the faces of a Christchurch that will never be the same again.''
Key said the earthquake had altered the lives of those who lived in the city.
He said ''today we treasure the memory of the city'' as it was.
Key said even as we mourn we remember the plight of Japan.
1.07pm: Prime Minister John Key says we are gathered to reaffirm our commitment to those we have lost.
1.05pm: Prince William says the response of people in Canterbury has been humbling, an inspiration to all.
''I count myself extremely privileged to be here.''
Prince William said our thoughts and prayers were also with the people of Japan.
He had heard tales of extraordinary bravery and courage.
''Kia kaha, be strong,'' he said to end his speech.
1.01pm: Prince William says the Queen sends her heartfelt condolences.
"My grandma once said that grief is the price we pay for love. Here today we love and grieve."
12.58pm: Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker says we have to dedicate ourselves to rebuilding a place where businesses and people can prosper.
The city had to remember all of the linkages to those killed from overseas as well as the city's own residents.
The city had to find a suitable memorial for them.
"We have to have faith in ourselves. We have to remember that we have to have the things that were given to us and our children and their children... we have to have the self belief to build the safest city so this never happens again. We will rebuild the shattered suburban fabric. We will have a city that will again be the most beautiful city on the plant to live. That is our goal."
12.56pm: Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker says we have to find way to take the weight and inspiration from those who died into the future.
The lives lost had to be given real meaning as the city moved forward, Parker said.
He particularly highlights cases of students and visitors from overseas who lost their lives.
12.55pm: Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker says no one can answer why the quake happened or why it happened in Christchurch.
12.54pm: Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker says no one among us can comprehend rhythms of life and death that have swept across city.
12.51pm: Reverend Peter Beck calls on memorial crowd and people around country to observe two minutes of silence.
12.50pm: Reverend Peter Beck says memorial is another step on the journey to rebuilding lives and the city.
12.47pm: Reverend Peter Beck says Canterbury people have a wonderful spirit which has shown through.
12.45pm: The British national anthem, God Save the Queen, is played as thousands of people stand.
12.44pm: Ngai Tahu elder Henare Rakiihia has offered a special welcome to Prince William.
He wishes him the best for the future.
12.43pm: Ngai Tahu elder Henare Rakiihia talks of a proud nation's history and Christchurch's wider family.
Our family tree, he says, is like the rainbow - it contains many colours and embraces everyone here.
12.37pm: Ngai Tahu elder Henare Rakiihia says we submit our prayers and gather as one from across the world.
12.36pm: Ngai Tahu elder Henare Rakiihia opens service with prayer and welcome, known as a Mihi Whakatau.
12.33pm: A Maori warrior has opened the memorial service by blowing on a conch shell.
12.32pm: Prince William is given korowai to wear at Christchurch memorial service
12.31pm: Prince William officially arrives at memorial service to ovation from crowd.
12.23pm: Crowd goes eerily quiet as video from day of quake is played at memorial.
12.10pm: A lone piper plays a lament for victims of the Christchurch earthquake at memorial.
12.05pm: Thousands of people at Christchurch quake memorial are told what to do in case of emergency.
11.59am: Prince William has thanked Christchurch's student army for a "fantastic job".
The prince took a moment before today's memorial ceremony to speak to members of the voluntary group.
He said "thank you for all your work you've done a fantastic job".
The student army members gave the prince a hat and T-shirt.
Kohan McNab, 23, said the prince wanted to know exactly what the group did.
"He asked about the make up of the army," McNab said.
"He was really relaxed. He seemed really interested it what we've done and he was quite impressed."
11.51am: Today's Christchurch earthquake memorial was almost held too soon for Rachael Bailey.
But, clad in a Crusaders jersey she ordered specifically for the occasion, the central city bank worker joined thousands of others at Hagley Park to remember those who lost their lives in last month's quake.
''I think it's a bit early for it. I would've liked to have done it in six months time," she said.
She couldn't make up her mind about whether to attend. Her family, unwilling to come into the city, were instead having a barbecue in Rolleston.
''I decided that they were doing it, so I would support it.'
She was in a central city coffee shop when the quake hit and was forced to flee outside ''in amongst all the falling bricks'' when the shaking started.
Her young nieces were too afraid to visit her in the city ''because they don't want to see all the broken buildings. That's tough''.
She had been coping well since the earthquake but the reality of it had started to sink in.
''Every day it just feels like your life is not what it was."
She said she understood the city had a long way to go.
''God, we've lost an entire city. You can't do everything at once.''
11.42am: Rescue workers arriving at Hagley Park receive a standing ovation from thousands of people.
11.39am: Prince William is meeting with members of the student army ahead of today's memorial.
11.36am: Prince William will wear a traditional Maori feathered cloak during today's national memorial service.
Ngai Tahu spokesman Whetu Moataane said the korowai was in recognition of the prince's position, and to acknowledge he represented the royal family.
Moataane said a putatara, or conch shell, would sound to signal the beginning of the service.
A delegation of Ngai Tahu's most respected leaders would attend today's service.
Kaumatua Sir Tipene O'Regan and chairman Mark Solomon were among the group.
Ngai Tahu spokesman Whetu Moataane said tribes from the wider Canterbury area and throughout Aotearoa would be included in the service.
Basically our part is to do the formal welcome into this area and also open the service with prayer," he said.
A kapa haka group would also perform, both prior to and during the service.
11.29am: Prince William lands at Hagley Park to meet people ahead of today's memorial quake service.
One woman shouted "I love you, thanks for coming", as the prince waved to onlookers.
11.28am: Casebrook resident Lizzie Whitcombe, who arrived early for the memorial, says Christchurch needs a chance to grieve.
She was wearing her 'Kia kaha chch' shirt for the Hagley park event.
She said many friends and family members were not coming due to the limited parking and lack of port-a-loos.
There were three large stages flanked by large screens, and a special area for grieving family members to sit.
11.15am: Thousands of people have already arrived in North Hagley Park including a pair who have been camped near the stage since 8am.
Mona Wilson, from Burwood, and her daughter Mary Wilson of Burnside, were among the first in the park and were sitting in a prime spot before the stage. They said they just wanted to pay their respects.
A steady stream of memorial goers was now joining them on the grass. One man, not content to just wait til the service begins, is playing golf.
The service was due to start at 12.30pm.
Special thanks to Stuff for permission to use photos and some of the text.