Food, music and mostly fine weather— the perfect excuse to come together as one big family.
That's what the Whangārei public did at Mair Park yesterday afternoon at a pot luck picnic to not only commiserate with the local Muslim community over last month's tragedy but to learn more about each other's culture and tradition.
More than 100 people brought a plate for the event organised by the Northland Muslim Community Charitable Trust in partnership with social advocate Carol Peters and Bethel Church which took care of the musical side of things.
Whangārei music teacher Kyle Paxton playing the hammered dulcimer was a crowd favourite and the American said it was awesome to see everyone come together.
"It's very important for people from different religions to collaborate and know each other. I am part of the Bethel Church and am honoured to be here."
Indonesian Bram Pitoyo moved to Whangārei from Vanuatu about two years ago and said he was amazed at how a little community got together to show their love and affection towards each other.
"It's good that the local Muslim community is visible and I hope people don't easily forget what happened in Christchurch and go back to their shells. I hope they keep extending a hand of friendship in very small ways," he said.
Northland Indian Association chairman Ralph Correa described it as "one big family" getting together, with people from all walks of life sharing their food and culture.
"Words can't describe how giving people are with their time, good wishes and just the contribution they make for the good of the society in general," Correa said.
Arasteh Hancock from the Northland Baha'i community came along with her husband Bruce and met for the first time young Nigina Razzakova, from Uzbekistan, who lives in Whangārei.
They sat together with Pitoyo and his family and shared food.
"Gatherings like this are about building bridges of understanding because our commonality is far more than our differences. We all come from the same society," Hancock said.
Muslim trust treasurer Shirley Rankin thanked everyone and encouraged them to continue making an effort to know each other more regularly.