We have just spent two weeks in Christchurch. It is a very sad place at the moment. So sad. It was heart breaking seeing the damage to this beautiful city, but it was heart warming seeing the people's strength and determination to rebuild. We were lucky enough to be there at the time of the memorial service in Hagley Park for those who had died in the quake. It was extremely moving: there was sorrow but there was hope. We came back in time for a similar memorial service at COC in Noosa: the theme once again hope, and rebuilding of broken lives in a broken city. The disasters in the world at this time are making us all stop and think, evaluate what is important and what is not. We went to Christchurch to be with our friend Donna Tairakena who lost her husband in the CTV building. Wally - or Tetaki as he liked to be called, was best man at our wedding and Steve's very good friend for a long long time. We were both really affected by his death and needed to be in Christchurch to deal with our grief: It was a relief when we finally made the decision to go. It was a long wait till his body was able to be identified and the funeral (tangi) arrangements could be made and the wait was taking it toll on us all. The Tangi was held in Christchurch and then Hamilton. It was a first for me and what an amazing experience it was. The Maori people have a very healing way of dealing with grief. It was four days I will never forget: four days of remembering the happy times we'd shared with Wally, singing his songs and retelling his stories, meeting his relatives and meeting up again with mutual friends from days gone by. I am very grateful to those who organized all the different aspects: such an important part of life is dealing with death and grief. How wonderful it was to remember all the wonderful times we shared with Wally and to hear everyone's stories of their own encounters with him. He will always hold a very special place in my heart: the encouragement and affirmation he gave me has been very important to me. I am so grateful that he took the time to do it - it will remain with me forever. He touched the lives of so many of us.

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