A heavy police presence guards the Asb Arena this morning and Tauranga gathers to remember those pieces lost in the Christchurch shootings two weeks ago.

As people focused on the national speeches, police also stood sentry at each entrance.

Armed police at Baypark arena. Photo / Andrew Warner
Armed police at Baypark arena. Photo / Andrew Warner

People scattered throughout the room sat silent as the live stream of the national service aired.

Many attended by themselves, others in small groups of two, three or four. One woman sat on her own in the stands, quiet weeping.

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A woman in a head scarf takes her seat at the Tauranga streaming of the Remembrance Service in Christchurch. Photo / Andrew Warner
A woman in a head scarf takes her seat at the Tauranga streaming of the Remembrance Service in Christchurch. Photo / Andrew Warner

Women dressed in headscarves join elected city officials, patched gang members and leaders of the Muslim community at today's national service.

Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless said there had been a huge outpouring of love and support for the Muslim community since March 15 and today's events were a culmination of that.

Western Bay of Plenty Mayor Garry Webber said "we are an incredibly diverse community and if we don't recognise all of those different ethnicities, religions, and points of view then we would be all that much more poorer".

Webber spoke to the crowd and recited a poem about diversity.

Tauranga Mosque president Ahmed Ghoneim said it was difficult to put into words the events from the past two weeks.

"To explain what it has been like is not easy. It's something you cant explain but you feel it. It all comes.from the heart."

Ghoneim later addressed the crowd, saying he had attempted to write a speech I prepation for today "but I thought when I go to a family member's house or close friend, I never take a piece of paper".

"For me, it comes straight from the heart."

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He said today was about love.

"When I see a small kid coming with a McDonald's toy from a Happy Meal ... and put it through the fence at the mosque. When I see a small kid with a plastic bag filled with coins, his savings, and hands it over to me, this is love."

Ghoneim then paid tribute to the Prime Minster, police "working 24/7 to keep us safe", mayors Webber and Brownless and the rest of the city, repeatedly saying "thank you" to each party.

Former Tauranga's Mosque president Mohammed Amin told the Bay of Plenty Times there were still people sharing their shock and grief with him.

"There are still people at 10pm at night still, with tears in their eyes and love for us. There were ladies, 98 years old and 93, the ladies came in a taxi to give flowers and show us their tears as well. That is called love. That is called peace. That is called Islam.

"We still lost 50 brothers and sisters but this love, just how much New Zealand has given us, we are humbled."