Christchurch Police say a ceremonial blessing of sites where people died in the 22 February earthquake is another step in helping residents, communities and families of victims come to terms with the tragic loss of life.
Local kaumatua and a police chaplain have today [Tuesday 15 March] completed blessing ceremonies at more than 20 locations around the CBD and wider city.
Rev Jim Patrick, police chaplain, says the saying of prayers over the sites is an important step towards closure for many people affected by the earthquake.
"This is an acknowledgement of the intense spiritual impact of the tragedy on so many people - families of the deceased, emergency services workers, residents and the wider city," he says.
"The blessing helps us to accept what has happened, to grieve, to commend the deceased to God and to begin to move on."
Police kaumatua, Rev Maurice Gray, says the blessing included a lifting of the tapu on each site where people had died, along with the sprinkling of water and laying of pare kawakawa - branches which symbolise life being brought to the place of death.
"This is part of the ongoing recognition of the spiritual needs of all those families and communities affected by the tragedy.
"We are especially conscious that international families have entrusted the spiritual care of their loved ones to us. In these blessings we acknowledge the reality of our grief, but also bring the light of life to these places," he says.
NB. Photographs and pool video available:
Photographs: Photographs available for download from the Police website (this page). Main images show Rev Maurice Gray (centre, in orange hard-hat) and Rev Jim Patrick (at right), with representatives of iwi and emergency services, conducting a blessing at the PGC building site.
Video: Video of the blessing of the site at 7 Riccarton Road is available on a pool basis from TVNZ. (Contact Richard Sutherland, 09 9167226)
Christchurch Media Liaison Team: 027 432 0960 or ChchPoliceMediaLiason@police.govt.nz
Public Affairs: 04 460 2986 or 04 474 9482