• 49 confirmed dead in terrorist shootings at two Christchurch mosques
• 41 killed at mosque near Hagley Park, seven at Linwood, and one died in hospital
• More than 40 people were hospitalised with a range of injuries, including a critically hurt 5-year-old boy flown to Starship
•Shooter had five weapons including two semi-automatic guns - and PM Jacinda Ardern says: 'Our gun laws will change'

Rotorua residents have continued to show support for Christchurch in the wake of yesterday's mosque attacks which left 49 people dead and 48 injured.

Flowers are building up outside the Rotorua Islamic Centre on Tarewa Rd.


The city's mayor Steve Chadwick is currently in Christchurch as she already had plans to go there before the attacks.

She told the Rotorua Daily Post this morning the feeling in the city was "surreal".

"It's shocking, sad but very loving. It shows we do really have a feeling of manaakitanga,"

Last night after the shootings the council lowered the flags outside the council building to half mast in support for Christchurch.

Chadwick said since the incident she had been flooded with ideas from people on how to mark the tragedy locally.

Flowers outside the Rotorua Islamic Centre on Saturday morning. Photo/ Ben Fraser
Flowers outside the Rotorua Islamic Centre on Saturday morning. Photo/ Ben Fraser

"[Chief executive] Geoff Williams and [kaumatua] Monty Morrison and I are considering the right civic way to mark the tragedy. These ideas are unfolding today and there will be an opportunity for the community to participate and respond.

"We start to think of ways we can share in the tragedy and keep the community strong.

"I think at the moment that feeling is still one of absolute shock. We are all paralysed by our horror and shock."


Chadwick encouraged people in Rotorua to reach out and support each other.

"We must not let anxiety and fear overwhelm us," she said.

"I think at home we've always welcomed diversity and we'll continue to welcome diversity and celebrate our differences that's the manaakitanga we've always had in Rotorua and will continue to have."

Flags at half mast outside the Rotorua Lakes Council. Photo / Ben Fraser
Flags at half mast outside the Rotorua Lakes Council. Photo / Ben Fraser

Chadwick said she had also reached out to Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel.

In a Facebook post last night Chadwick extended thoughts and prayers and love to Rotorua's Muslim community.

"As the dreadful enormity of the events in Christchurch unfold tonight we are at a loss as to how to comfort you and your loved ones. We cannot bow to fear and must continue to stay strong together," she wrote.


John Paul College principal Patrick Walsh said the school was shocked by the news.

"As a faith-based community we were shocked that people who were practising their faith by praying were killed for it.

"We have a chapel where our students and staff prayer together. Everyone in New Zealand should have the right to go to their place of worship and pray irrespective if you are Catholic, Muslim, or Hindu or any other religion and know you will be safe.

Morning update: New Zealand is in mourning after the deadly massacre at two Christchurch mosques.

Walsh said the school would be opening its chapel for students and staff on Monday to pray for the victims of the attacks.

"An act of solidarity that we uphold the right of Muslims to pray and gather as a
faith-based community."

Deputy Commissioner of Māori and Ethnic Services Wally Haumaha is among the dozens of officers deployed into the Christchurch region today.

He has travelled to Christchurch alongside 15 ethnic liaison officers to support the community.

In a statement police commissioner Mike Bush said the specialists would work alongside local staff to support the families and help repatriate them with their loved ones in a way that is consistent with Muslim beliefs, while taking into account these circumstances and obligations to the coroner.


Rotorua's Terrace Kitchen is also showing support for the victims.

On Instagram the cafe announced it would be donating all profits from the weekend's tradings to the people affected and their family members.

"Our hearts are with the victims of this despicable act, their families, the Muslim community of Aotearoa and the people of #Christchurch," the post said.

"White supremacism has no place in our community. No act of racism has a place in our community."

The Arts Village is also accepting donations for Christchurch victim support.

The village's Pop-Up Arts Festival is on today. In a post on Facebook the village said there was a sense of shock and disbelief among stallholders at the festival.


Mōrena villagers, A still morning today, we are here but amongst our staff and stallholders there is such a strong...

Posted by The Arts Village on Friday, 15 March 2019

"We are here as a community. Together. We reject any attempts to 'other' any amongst us. To those who have lost their loved ones: we love you and grieve with you. To those who are in fear: we love you and stand beside you," the post read.

"Today at least we can do our part by giving all donations and koha taken today to this cause."

They were also inviting anyone with ideas to fundraise or provide safe space and solace at the village to get in touch.

Ponsonby Rd Lounge Bar also intended to make a donation to the local Muslim community from sales on the weekend.

😔 Today we will open, but we mourn with the rest of the country over the vicious terrorist attack from yesterday in...

Posted by Ponsonby Rd Lounge Bar, Rotorua on Friday, 15 March 2019

In a post on Facebook the bar management said it would be open.

"But we mourn with the rest of the country over the vicious terrorist attack from yesterday in Christchurch.


"From our sales over the weekend, we will be making a donation to our local Muslim community, as they as a peoples, gather themselves to mourn."

Rotorua airport chief executive Mark Gibb said domestic flights were resuming as normal today but there would be extra security screening.

"There's a flight due in later this morning and they are security screening that flight out of Christchurch.

"People need to keep in touch with their airlines in relation to any delays."

Gibb said the airport was prepared if extra security screening was required.

Love Soup co-founder Gina Peiffer said the charity had offered support to the Rotorua Muslim community.

"When we first started the Muslim community was one of the first to come forward to cook for our homeless ... They've been involved in the last four to five years.


"We don't know what we can do in the way of support. We are waiting to hear what they need but out door is open."

A card of support outside the Rotorua Islamic Centre this morning. Photo / Ben Fraser
A card of support outside the Rotorua Islamic Centre this morning. Photo / Ben Fraser

Peiffer said she was horrified when she heard about the attacks. She has a son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren who live in Christchurch.

"Our first mission was to make sure they were safe. After that the shock of what happened is still hitting everybody," she said.

"I want our Muslim community to know they are loved and cared for here in Rotorua. If they need anything just reach out."

Whakatāne woman Polly Hamilton is also planning an event following the shootings.

Titled Support Ōtautahi (Christchurch) the event is about bringing children of all cultures together.


"It's a chance for us to meet with people we wouldn't normally meet.

"Many children are naive to what's going on but also they are the future. We want it to be normal for them to interact with all members of the community.

"It's not enough to post on Facebook or change your profile picture."

Hamilton said the event was all about the children and they may not even discuss the Christchurch shootings.

The event is being held next Saturday from 10am to 12pm at Whakatāne Miniature Railway and Skatepark. It can be found on Facebook.

"I want anyone in our community who might feel marginalised in any way to feel comfortable and welcome.


"I would hope we have a cross section of people from Whakatāne who feel welcome to come along and know we are all part of the community."

Hamilton said the event was also about spreading a message of kindness.

"If we are approaching everybody with kindness and tolerance these things can't happen," she said.

"A lot of people may think that's naïve but we've got to remain relentlessly positive as our prime minister would say."