Service held to allow hundreds of Central Otago residents to grieve

Central Otago residents gather together in Clyde yesterday to show solidarity after Friday's...
Central Otago residents gather together in Clyde yesterday to show solidarity after Friday's attacks. PHOTO: ADAM BURNS
Like many around the country, hundreds of Central Otago residents came together yesterday to grieve following Friday's mosque attacks in Christchurch.

The service, held at the Old Clyde Station, offered the local community an opportunity to show love and support.

The atmosphere was heavy as people struggled to come to terms with the tragedy.

The vigil, organised by Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan and Alexandra man Wayne Perkins, was marked with songs, speeches and reflection.

Residents sang Tutira Mai Nga Iwi to begin proceedings.

Speaking during the service, Mr Cadogan said the afternoon was about coming together to stand by the Muslim members of the Central Otago community and beyond.

"We're coming together to show [the Muslim community], to us, to the nation, to the world, that we are one.''

Mr Cadogan spoke out against "those who hate, that hide behind curtains and keyboards''.

"We stand together to reject them and what they stand for.''

Before he launched into a version of Bob Dylan's Blowin' in the Wind, Mr Perkins spoke about how "sad it was that the song was still applicable today''.

Representing the local Muslim community was Jalal Kasi, of Alexandra, who thanked "everyone who had shown their support''.

"We are sure and we are certain from our heart that this is not the New Zealand we have known since we've come here. This is not you and this is not us.''

An area was allocated for residents to leave flowers and write messages of remembrance in chalk.

Mr Cadogan and Mr Kasi together planted an olive tree of "peace'' on the field near the station.

Attendees then joined together in a minute's silence.

More than $1000 was raised for Victim Support in Christchurch during the service, Mr Cadogan said.

adam.burns@odt.co.nz

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