Tongan flag hung on a gate at the Jamia Masjid Al Mustafa in Ōtāhuhu. Photo/Kalino Lātū

Nine days after the Christchurch massacre, major events are scheduled today to allow people to show their grief and support for the victims of the racist attack.

Thousands of people are expected to attend a memorial service, ‘Remember Those Who Lost Their Lives’, in Christchurch this evening.

The memorial service will be held in Hagley Park from 5-7pm.

It will be started by Linwood mosque Imam Alabi Lateef Zirullah.

Other speakers will include Catholic Bishop of Christchurch Paul Martin. Cashmere High School, which several of the victims attended, will be represented.

In Auckland, an anti-Islamophobia rally, ‘Kia Kaha Aotearoa: Stand Against Racism,’ will be held at Aotea Square from 2pm.

Vigils and memorial services have been held all over New Zealand in the past week.

A vigil was held in New Plymouth and a hikoi was held in Hastings. An estimated 15,000 people attended a memorial in Dunedin.

On Friday hundreds of staff and students at Unitec in Auckland attended a memorial service that included the planting of an olive tree in the institute’s memorial garden.

Many New Zealand women covered their heads as a mark of respect on Friday, including  policewoman  Michelle Evans.

Constable Evans was standing guard outside the Christchurch Memorial Park Cemetery.

On Friday, people were asked to stay off Facebook for 50 hours from 1.40pm, the time the alleged gunman started broadcasting live video of the shooting last Friday.

There has been anger at Facebook for allowing the gunman to broadcast his attack online. Internet providers in New Zealand have been working to have the footage blocked or removed.

Pacific response

The effects of the Christchurch shooting has been felt throughout the Pacific.

As Kaniva Tonga news reported earlier this week, on Monday Members of Parliament took part in a one minute silence on Monday morning to pay respects for the victims of Christchurch’s terror attack.

Acting Speaker Lord Tu’ilakepa said the minute was in respect for the memory of those killed and hurt in the attack on Friday, which left 50 dead and at least 50 injured

Lord Tu’ilakepa said in Tongan: “Oku ou fie ‘oatu ‘a e fie kaungā mamahi ‘a e Fale Alea ‘o Tongá mo e kakai ‘o Nu’usilá, ‘oku ‘oatu heni ha faka’apa’apa, mo e fiekaungā mamahi mo’oni ‘a e Fale Alea ‘o Tonga, mo e kakai ‘o Nu’usila koe’uhi ko e pulonga kuo tō he fonuá, tupu mei he fakapō ta’e’amanekina, ne hoko ‘i Christchurch, ‘i he ‘aho Falaite 15 ‘o Mā’asi, 2019.”

In Port Moresby, an editorial in the Papua New Guinea Post-Courier  described New Zealand as “one of the most peaceful and culturally open countries in the world, which makes this vicious attack even more disgusting.”

In Fiji, people were asked to stand in solidarity with New Zealand at a candlelit service.

The Fiji Times reported that Musa Vali Suleman Patel, 60, a leader of the Fiji Muslim League, was killed in the racist attack.

According to Radio New Zealand, two other Fijians, Ashraf Ali Razat and Hafiz Musa Patel, were also killed.

Messages of condolence have come from political leaders and regional bodies across the Pacific.

Cook Islands Prime Minister Herny Puna said his country’s prayers first and foremost were with the victims of the shooting, “their families, friends and loved ones who are now faced with the irreconcilable loss of their loved ones.”

Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said Fijian hearts were breaking.

“An atrocity of this nature is shocking almost beyond comprehension,” he said.

“Across all religions, our houses of worship are a source of refuge, of prayer, and of love; to see such a heinous and hate-filled act occur in what should be places of peace is the darkest of evils.”

President of French Polynesia, Edouard Fritch described Friday’s attack as a “despicable act.”

However, not all Pacific leaders have been so altruistic.

In Samoa, a request by MP Tafua Maluelue Tafua for a minute’s silence to remember the victims of the shooting was knocked back by Speaker of Parliament on procedural grounds.

Samoan PM Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi criticised Tafua for making the request, saying he should have known that a minutes’ silence was only offered for MPs.

Dr. Malielegaoi said his official statement on the shooting, which was extended on behalf of Parliament and the whole country meant more than just a moment of silence.

“Message of sympathy and condolences were sent to New Zealand on that Friday from one leader to another, period,” he said.

He then went on to attack his political opponents and appeared to claim they and people campaigning for human rights in Samoa were like the Christchurch gunman.

The main points

  • Nine days after the Christchurch massacre, major events are scheduled today to allow people to show their grief and support for the victims of the racist attack.
  • Thousands of people are expected to attend a memorial service in Hagley Park in Christchurch from 5-7pm.
  • In Auckland, an anti-Islamophobia rally, Kia Kaha Aotearoa: Stand Against Racism, will be held at Aotea Square from 2pm.

For more information

Christchurch shooting: Details of vigil revealed, thousands expected

https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12215641

Tonga Parliament holds minute’s silence for Christchurch racist murder victims

Christchurch mosque shooting: Fiji national among victims

‘Heartfelt grief and sorrow’ – Pacific pledges solidarity after Christchurch mosque attacks

https://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/384850/heartfelt-grief-and-sorrow-pacific-pledges-solidarity-after-christchurch-mosque-attacks

P.M. explains why a minute of silence motion was rejected

https://www.samoaobserver.ws/category/samoa/39146

PNG shares the pain of the horror shooting of innocent lives in New Zealand

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