Former Christchurch resident Kirsten Tipuna stood stoic at the mosque gates, dressed in black with a headscarf.

She said she moved to Tauranga after the Christchurch earthquakes and this tragedy felt close to her heart.

"It just kind of brought back all the anxiety I thought I had buried away," she said.


"I've walked around in a headscarf a day and felt quite scared. And that's how these people must feel.

I'm scared standing out here wearing this. But if they are going to hurt them, then they will have to hurt us.

I dont think there's any way to get through this than together.

"In my (Maori) culture it's important to pay your respects. I wanted to come along today to do that," she said.


Greazy Dog member Maurice Walker organised men from the gang to tautoko (support) the Muslim community after an unnecessarily sad week.

"We just had to be here, for the support and to be one with them."

He said the decision to wear the patches showed who they were.


"We are always going to be this and we just want to show our unity as a club and that we are here for these beautiful people."

Standing with her cousin and niece, Joy Ngātoko said it was important to stand and show support for a community that has gone through a huge loss.

"It has happened here in our country, so for me it is all about aroha.

The three woman were proudly wearing hijab which Ngātoko said was an easy decision to make.

"In our Māori culture we wear black scarves when we are in mourning so we can truly identify with that.

"Its out of respect."

2.10pm: Amongst the crowds and chatter of people, more than ten men find a space to do prayer.


Labour list MP Angie Warren-Clark joined the crowd, wearing a scarf around her head.

She said she wore the scarf as a sign of "respect and a mark of sorrow".

"I think its important that we as a community can reflect here and show our solidarity, support and sorrow to the Muslim community because it is our sorrow as well."

Warren-Clark said "its important that we do this".

"That we mark and honour this and that people are free to express their faith and they are safe to do that."

National MP Todd Muller turned out in suit and tie for the event. He said the nation's response to the tragedy had been outstanding.

"There's so much tragedy gently softened by a cloak of love and compassion."

He noted people of all ages and demographics had shown out for the event, from gang bikers to older people, which was a show of community wide solidarity.

2.03pm: Armed police are positioned around the mosque and will continue to guard the mosque at every prayer time.


Sheldon Hayes came with her one-year-old daughter. She came to support those who were grieving and with the hopes her daughter could learn from the experience.

Originally from Australia, Hayes said it was "eye opening" to see how New Zealand had responded to the tragedy.

"Jacinda Ardern has been incredible. She's led the way with compassion and love."

Platters of sweets and chocolate were distributed among the crowd, bring smiles to many.

Dede Dudley said it was a gesture from the Shakti organisation which works with Tauranga Women's Refuge.

Dudley was joined by young children who helped move the sweets around the crowd.

The children were, like her, Muslim and want to do something nice for the community which had been so supportive, she said.

1.51pm: Tauranga Boys' College Year 13 student Ben Percy said the shooting shocked him. He had a half brother who usually prayed at one of the mosques but had been running late so missed the shooting.

Percy said the Tauranga Boys' College haka was to represent the brotherhood of the school and share their solidarity with the wider community.

1.46pm: People are being invited to pray on prayer mats set up outside the mosque to cater for the huge crowd.

People are being invited to pray on prayer mats set up outside the mosque to cater with the huge crowd.
People are being invited to pray on prayer mats set up outside the mosque to cater with the huge crowd.

Grayson Ottoway addressed the crowd saying the tragedy had brought together the community. He referred to the large group of Greazy Dog gang members who made a dramatic entrance moments earlier.

Ottoway said before this tragedy he would not have considered approaching them and saying hello, "but I have warmly received them and they have warmly received me".

He told the crowd: "this has made us closer than we have ever been".


Women of all ethnicities are walking into the mosque to join their Muslim community in prayer. Extra mats are being put outside to accommodate for the number of people wanting to join them in prayer.

1.35pm: Two minutes of unforgettable silence. Prayer call has begun.

1.32pm: Silence has begun.

Silence at the Tauranga Mosque.
Silence at the Tauranga Mosque.


Students from Tauranga Boys' College have just performed a rousing haka outside the Tauranga Mosque. The crowd of hundreds watched on in silence.

Leaflets in Islam are being handed out to the crowd.

Tauranga Mosque.
Tauranga Mosque.
Photo / Leah Tebbutt
Photo / Leah Tebbutt

A Bay of Plenty reporter at the mosque said the people are quiet and the air is heavy with reverence.

1.17pm: Bikers from across the region have arrived to stand and protect their brother and sisters at the Tauranga Mosque.

About 25 to 30 bikers have just pulled up.

Mike Anderson, part of the Maketū Gentlemen's Club put a post up on Facebook asking for anyone to come along to support him in guarding the mosque this afternoon.

"To show that the biking fraternity is right behind these guys. This guy has come here and offended not only the Muslim community but ourselves and we stand here with our brother and our sisters as one."

Thousands are expected to descend on the Tauranga Mosque this afternoon to stand with the Muslim community and reflect a week on from the tragic events in Christchurch.

A call to prayer at 1.30pm will coincide with a "human chain of love" around the mosque to allow the Muslim community to pray in peace.

A Facebook event called NZ Stand Together had been set up, with the idea of urging people to join hands and circle their local mosque to stand in solidarity with their local Muslim community for Friday prayer.

Tauranga MP Simon Bridges is expected to attend.

A mass haka will take place and a group of motorcyclists have planned to ride from Pāpāmoa arriving at the mosque on Eighteenth Ave in time for the event.

More to come.o