Waitakians farewell the Queen

Remembering her majesty ... Waitaki District Mayor Gary Kircher spoke at a memorial service for Queen Elizabeth II last weekend.

Almost 20,000km away from Westminster Abbey, Oamaru locals were able to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth II last weekend.

A memorial service was held at the Oamaru Opera House Auditorium for the monarch. Her Majesty died on September 8 after reigning for 70 years.

The service was attended by many members of the community, with Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher, Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean and Te Runanga o Moeraki Upoko David Higgins speaking.

Students from the St Kevin’s College waiata group also performed. The service was a chance for the community to pay their respects, Mr Kircher said.

‘‘Not only was Queen Elizabeth II the head of state for New Zealand, she was also an amazing leader who served with true grace and dedication.

‘‘It is a time for many in the community to grieve, show their appreciation for her life, and to reflect on all she did over her 96 years as a member of the royal family.’’

Her passing was ‘‘the closing chapter on an incredible life’’, he said.

‘‘Having a monarch reign for 70 years is phenomenal, with many of her subjects never knowing any other Queen or King in their lifetime. Her late Majesty has been a constant in people’s lives, and for many, she provided stability during a time when everything else has been changing and challenging.

‘‘Her passing marks the end of an era.’’

Those speaking at the service recounted their own experiences with the Queen across her many visits to New Zealand.

Her reign was almost taken for granted, but leaders like her were few and far between, the mayor said.

‘‘It has really only been with her passing that a lot of us have come to realise just how important the Queen has been in our lives. Not all feel that way, of course, but a leader such as Queen Elizabeth, along with her longevity, is a very rare thing indeed.’’

The Queen’s eldest son and heir, King Charles III, has become the oldest monarch to assume the British throne, aged 73.