Members of the Rotorua Muslim and wider community are being invited to stand in solidarity with Christchurch at a vigil this evening.

Waiariki MP Tāmati Coffey is helping organise the vigil to be held at Tamatekapua at Te Papaiouru Marae at Ōhinemutu.

"We know there are vigils happening around the country and figured it was right we do something here. We've got a big Muslim community so we wanted to show some solidarity at a time like this."

Coffey, on behalf of Ngāti Whakaue people, has been working with the local Muslim community through the details of what the vigil will look like.

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Tāmati Coffey is organising a vigil for the Rotorua community. Photo / File
Tāmati Coffey is organising a vigil for the Rotorua community. Photo / File

It will run from 7pm to 8pm and Coffey said it would be done in a "tikanga Māori way" but with respect for the Muslim community too.

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"We want to be sensitive to our Muslim whānau because I don't know what's appropriate in their culture.

"Tonight is going to be a very respectful one."

A vigil is being held Tamatekapua meeting house this evening. Photo / File
A vigil is being held Tamatekapua meeting house this evening. Photo / File

Coffey said the vigil was open to the wider community.

"It's open to anybody that wants to stand in solidarity with us we send a message to our local Muslim community that we care and we are devastated too and you should have nothing to fear," he said.

ROTORUA DAILY POST
16 Mar, 2019 8:42am
2 minutes to read

"Let's share our sorrow and come together. Let's all cry together and mark the moment because it is, I believe, one of the biggest tragedies in New Zealand."

Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick said she was also working through a number of ideas of ways to mark the tragedy in Rotorua.

She said she was considering all the ideas which were flooding in and her and other council staff would determine the right civic way to mark the tragedy later in the week again.

A second vigil is being planned by Rotorua man Omar Al Omari who immigrated from Palestine with his wife and children about three years ago.

The Muslim man is planning a one-minute silence in Te Manawa next Friday, one week after the shootings. It will start at 2.40pm, the normal prayer time for Muslims here in Rotorua.

He said it was open to all who wanted to mark the occasion and he would invite Chadwick as well as Rotorua MP Todd McClay and the police.

"I will talk on behalf of the Muslim community. We thank police for the actions they took. We have confidence in the Government and the police. We know we are safe here in a friendly environment among friendly people."

Al Omari said he was shocked when he heard the news.

"When I came to New Zealand I was aware the crime rate was low. I wanted to come to a safe area for my children. I didn't want them to go through what I had seen so when I saw this I was really shocked," he said.

"We want to send the message that nothing can separate us. Nothing can stop up doing what we can to contribute to New Zealand. The country that gave us the warmest hugs when we arrive."

Al Omari said he still felt safe in Rotorua.

"I trust everybody in New Zealand. Life will go on, those who have died are in a better place, we have pain but time will heal it, love will heal it."