None of the doomsday scenarios predicated immediately after the Christchurch earthquake have come to pass, Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee says.
Speaking on the second anniversary of the catastrophic quake, Mr Brownlee said there had been expectations of massive unemployment, huge economic decline and it was believed communities wouldn't be able to pick themselves up and move on.
"We've had 16,000 new jobs in Canterbury in the last 12 months, we're leading economic recovery throughout the country and it's not just earthquake work," he said.
"There's a lot of other things happening here as people have decided they just want to get stuck in."
Mr Brownlee says he's optimistic about the recovery.
"Yes, we've got a few problems here and there but day by day we keep attacking them, chucking them off, working out what the barriers are to moving forward and just keep the progress moving," he said on Radio New Zealand.
A midday service at Latimer Square on Friday is the main focus of memorial events, where families of the victims – 185 people were killed and hundreds more injured – will gather.
Mayor Bob Parker says "it's important to acknowledge that the last two years have been extraordinary; the prolonged nature of the aftermath cannot be ignored and our personal and collective grief continues".
The service will conclude with one minute's silence at 12:51pm, the time the 6.3-magnitude quake struck two years ago, wrecking much of the central city and turning the eastern suburbs into a quagmire with liquefaction.
The city's infrastructure is being rebuilt and much of the central city's no-go area has shrunk as dangerous buildings have been demolished. The rebuild has been estimated to cost as much as $30 billion.
But despite being two years on, many residents are still waiting for their insurance payouts and some residents are still living in garages, house buses and other temporary accommodation.
The Insurance Council this week said a large proportion of insurers' claims could only have started in the past six months because of obstacles.