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NZ Navy gifts ship's bell to mark bonds forged in Christchurch earthquake

A reproduction of HMNZS Canterbury's ship's bell had been specially cast and gifted to the city of Ōtautahi Christchurch as a symbol of the close connection with the Royal New Zealand Navy forged after the deadly 2011 earthquake.

29 July, 2022

HMNZS Canterbury was berthed in Lyttelton on 22 February when the 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck.

During the immediate aftermath, the ship played a critical role in helping transport emergency equipment and supplies into the city. 

“HMNZS Canterbury was there for Christchurch in our time of need and we are very grateful for the help they provided in transporting much needed disaster relief equipment and supplies in the days immediately after the earthquake,’’ says Mayor Lianne Dalziel.

“Crew from HMNZS Canterbury also helped with security patrols around the Lyttelton town centre and fed local residents whose homes were badly damaged and who had no power – they were providing upwards of 700 meals a night,” she said. 

“Their assistance, and the empathy and kindness they showed for people who were going through an incredibly tough and traumatic time, is something Christchurch will never forget.”

It was an honour to receive the HMNZS Canterbury bell on behalf of the city and it would be a symbol of the enduring bond that was forged after the earthquake, Mayor Dalziel said. 

The bell will be kept at the city council offices.

Presenting the bell to the mayor, Chief of Navy, Rear Admiral David Proctor, spoke of the long-standing relationship between the city and the Navy.

“Our presence in Christchurch dates back to 1928 when a Reserve Unit was established,” he said.

“But well before then, proud Cantabrians were crewing Navy ships just as they do today.

“Having HMNZS Canterbury alongside in her home port and able to assist the province and its people in the immediate aftermath of the tragic 2011 earthquake, is something the Navy will always take immense pride in as a part of the whole-of-New Zealand effort.”  

Chief of Navy, Rear Admiral David Proctor (left) presents the bell to Christchurch Mayor, Lianne Dalziel (right) at the city council offices. The replica bell is suspended from a wooden frame and stands proudly in the council building. Chief of Navy, Rear Admiral David Proctor presented the bell to Christchurch Mayor, Lianne Dalziel at the city council offices.

A reproduction of HMNZS Canterbury’s bell was gifted to the city of Ōtautahi Christchurch today.

The bell carries the inscription:

HMNZS Canterbury L421. Presented to the City of Ōtautahi Christchurch by the Sailors of Te Taua Moana o Aotearoa, in commemoration of the whanaungatanga between the Navy and the City following the earthquake of 22 February 2011. 

Bells have a centuries-long tradition of varied use in navies and merchant fleets of the world. 

Today, ship bells are usually only rung at ceremonial and memorial functions but in the past they have been used for signalling, keeping time, and sounding alarms.