Wellington stands side by side with Christchurch

By Tema Hemi

Wellingtonians came together at Waitangi Park today to show their support for the country's Muslim community and the people of Christchurch. The proceedings were opened by the Wellington Orchestra and the Pacifica Choir before crossing to the live broadcast from Hagley Park in Christchurch.

Although at different locations, Wellingtonians stood as one with their brothers and sisters of the Christchurch community.

Local Ngāti Toa iwi representative Taku Parai says, "The spirit of this occasion was beautiful, we are happy people came among Ngāti Toa today. They are here to pay homage to those who have deceased in Christchurch in the past weeks."

Wellington's mayor Justin Lester also acknowledged the aroha shown toward the Muslim and Christchurch communities. 

"That’s who we are", he says, "We said kia kaha Ōtautahi, we stand side by side with you Christchurch.

"This has been a horrible experience for the entire nation, particularly hard hit in Christchurch but alongside our Muslim community. We're here for you," he says.

Ikaroa Rāwhiti MP Meka Whaitiri recognised the important place of aroha and manākitanga at times such as these.

"I think the message the people gave today was around the continuation of this aroha, something Māori have inherently in part of our DNA - to keep the manākitanga, the aroha for those whānau."

For local Porirua MP Chris Faafoi the shared experience of gathering together to show support for each other has a unifying quality.

"You've seen all walks of life, all religions all cultures here today and in Christchurch. And I think if there’s one thing that will come of this it has strengthened the resolve of the country."  

President of the International Muslim Association of New Zealand Tahir Nawaz says the recent events signal a necessary time of change for the country.

"This is the time, this is the turning point for us that we need to demolish all those barriers that we have," he says. "Either racism, either its discrimination, either it’s the cultural things, we would like to see it as one, one community, one nation."