Members of the Western Bay Muslim and the wider community are being invited to stand in solidarity at a number of vigils being organised in the region to mourn for the 49 people slain in yesterday's terrorist attack in Christchurch.
Tauranga woman Stacy Wikaira visited the Tauranga Mosque this morning ahead of a vigil she would hold in Yatton Park this evening.
She decided to organise a vigil because she wanted to show that New Zealand was united in the face of this adversity.
"We're one country, and people all stand together as a multicultural and united country."
Tauranga resident Savannah Sandlant has organised a vigil tonight in Mount Maunganui.
Sandlant said after hearing the sad news last night, she felt compelled to do something for the Muslim community and anyone who felt they needed a shoulder to cry on.
Sandlant said she turned on the television to watch the news reporting the tragedy. "I just sat there for hours watching," she said.
"We just felt helpless."
The 22-year-old said the vigil would show support for those affected by the tragedy.
"The Muslim community need it. I feel like it is an act on our own community. No one ever thought that this would happen in New Zealand," she said.
Sandlant said more than 700 people had so far expressed their interest in attending the evening vigil on Facebook, and about 160 people had said they were going. She has invited a choir to welcome those who wished to pay their tributes this evening and had reached out to the Muslim community in Tauranga.
"We really need to be asking our Muslim community what we can do to help," she said.
There will be a combined churches prayer vigil at the Holy Trinity Church on Monday.
Holy Trinity co-vicar Dale Williamson said she had sent an invite to all members of the Tauranga Ministry Association.
The prayer vigil will be open to anyone.
"Everyone is welcome to come.
"It will be a simple vigil, and an opportunity for people can light a candle to express their grief and shock and their love for those who have suffered as a result of this tragedy."
Rev Williamson said, like everyone, she was shocked that such a horrific event had happened in New Zealand.
Her thoughts were with those who had lost loved ones, those who had been injured, the emergency services and the children who had to be locked down in their schools, including her grandchildren in Christchurch, as a result of the tragic event.
"People in New Zealand must have the opportunity to express their faith in safety without threats.
"I'm in total disbelief that this has happened in our country.
"This is not New Zealand; this is not what goes on in New Zealand. It's a terrible tragedy."
Te Puke mother and president of the Te Puke Toy Library Monique Lints has helped to organise a community vigil at Jubilee Park tomorrow at 6.30pm to show support of the families of victims in the Christchurch shootings and the Muslim community.
"We want to show our community we are all standing as one," Lints said. "Our hearts go out to the whole of New Zealand. It is going to rock us for a long time."
Lints said she had felt heartbroken after hearing the news.
"I just felt heartbroken. Heartbroken for everybody involved, heartbroken for our whole community," she said. "I definitely hugged my kids a lot tighter that night."
Lints said she had been open and honest with her children about what had happened and encouraged the community to get to know the people in their community a little closer.
"Talk to your neighbours, open your doors, share a cup of tea, say hi to them in the streets," she said. "If there are no shadows, information will get shared a lot wider."
Combined Churches Prayer Vigil
Holy Trinity Church, 215 Devonport Rd)
March 18, 7pm
Te Puke community vigil
Jubilee Park, Te Puke
Tomorrow (Sunday) at 6.30pm
Other planned vigils
Yatton Park, tonight, 6pm
Meet near BBQ and waterfall
Mount Maunganui Main Beach, tonight, 7pm
Meet in front of Moturiki (Leisure Island)