From Westminster with Love

04 Mar 2011

Five thousand New Zealanders have attended a service in London's Westminster Cathedral to pay tribute to those who lost their lives in last week's devastating Christchurch earthquake.

Dunedin man Matthew Heal said he was surprised at the huge crowds at the Westminster Cathedral.

His Christchurch partner arrived at 6.20pm for the 7pm (8am NZT) service and could not get inside.

Speakers were set up so the thousands stood outside in the cold could hear the service.

The service had a good tone of reflection and messages from Christchurch, he said.

It opened with a message from Prime Minister John Key read by New Zealand High Commissioner Derek Leask, then a Maori choir sung "Whakaria Mai / How Great Thou Art".

A message was read from Richie McCaw, before everyone sang the national anthem, led by Hayley Westenra.

Mr Heal said many people were crying but the service in general was inspiring.

"They were saying how Kiwis are incredibly resilient and resourceful people and will get through it," he said.

British people felt strongly for the people of Christchurch and were always asking him how his family and friends were doing.

He and other Kiwi friends were going to donate money to ITV which was matching all funds raised pound for pound to send to New Zealand.

Messages from those attending in London were posted on Twitter – "Remembering Christchurch tonight at Westminster Cathedral. Turnout is unreal. And humbling''.

One tweeter said they had not made it inside the cathedral, but it was a "good thing they've got speakers outside''.