International experience tells us that years' three to five are very hard for a city that has experienced trauma in the way that we have.
We think of today as the fourth anniversary but given that the last of the large aftershocks occurred on the 23rd December 2011, we are really at the beginning of year three.
Many will be at the other end of the spectrum – a new home and a sense of hope for the future.
As I said last year when a city experiences a traumatic event, people respond and recover in different ways.
And that we must be respectful of the fact that not everyone is able to 'move on', which has become the phrase we use to describe those who have resolved or at least accepted their situation.
Others cannot 'move on' for a variety of reasons – for some it is unanswered questions about what happened on that day, or the lack of resolution of their claim, for others it is the ongoing impacts of serious injuries, or the disruption to their lives and the loss of a sense of power or control over what has happened.
I am confident that the overwhelming generosity that the city displayed after the earthquakes will enable all of these challenges to be overcome.
The sense of unity that came with the outpouring of support for those affected by the earthquakes is my constant memory of that time.
I also remember a minister speaking at an outdoor service saying how much people all over the country wanted to help, but feeling helpless.
He said those who were able to help were the privileged ones and that is true, but at the same time they are the people to whom we owe a debt of gratitude that cannot be readily expressed in words.
It is this that gives me such hope and optimism for the future.
Last year I talked about the beauty of this place and how meaningful the chime of the World Peace Bell at the exact time that the earthquake struck would be.
Our Peace Bell like the original is cast from the coins of the nations that make up the UN – so its sounding reminds us of all the nationalities who have experienced loss in our city.
Let us take comfort from each other, while at the same time lifting our spirits with the sense of possibility our city holds.
This morning I read a poem by Samuel Butler for the memorial service for the families whose lives were lost and I thought it was appropriate to conclude with these words.
I fall asleep in the full and certain hope
That my slumber shall not be broken;
And that though I be all-forgetting,
Yet shall I not be all-forgotten,
But continue that life in the thoughts and deeds
Of those I loved.