There is a saying in the Quran that whoever kills a soul, has killed mankind entirely.

Saturday night in Rotorua mankind united at the very vigil the phrase was read at.

About 300 people from all colours of the rainbow attended the first vigil to be held in Rotorua in memory of the Christchurch shootings.

Speaking at the vigil Iftikhar Khan, who sometimes preaches at Rotorua's Islamic Centre, said New Zealand was one of the best places to bring up a family without fear.


"But this act has shaken the community."

Ishaan Pathan,9, with Samina Ambakhhutwala at the vigil at Te Papaiouru Marae. Photo / Ben Fraser
Ishaan Pathan,9, with Samina Ambakhhutwala at the vigil at Te Papaiouru Marae. Photo / Ben Fraser

Speaking to the Rotorua Daily Post he said his 15-year-old son had been fearful since the shootings.

"I brought my son here to show him, I said come and see the strength of the community."

The vigil was organised by Waiariki MP Tāmati Coffey alongside Ngati Whakaue and Te Arawa rangatira Monty Morrison and was held at Tamatekapua Meeting House at Te Papaiouru Marae at Ōhinemutu.

It was open to anyone who wanted to attend.

Mohabat Khan Malak said attending was the least he could do.

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

"We can stand together and support each other.

"Actions are stronger than words."

Malak said the Christchurch shootings did not affect the way he saw New Zealand, the country he had sought refuge in almost 20 years ago.

"People of all colours of the rainbow have come tonight."

As politicians and members of the community spoke others wrote messages on a banner which will later be gifted to Rotorua's Muslim community.

"Our hearts ache with your pain," one person wrote.

"They are us, they are family they are Kiwis they will be missed as Kiwis," another wrote.

"Our hearts ache with your pain."

Students from Rotorua Boys' High School were also collecting donations for the fund to help the families of the Christchurch victims. They later performed a haka.

A Muslim man who spoke at the vigil, Omar Al Omari, said the horrific events of the last 24 hours would not replace love.

"He [the alleged shooter] can make us feel sorrow, sadness and grief. What he will not replace is the love in our hearts.

"We will continue to work together with all the ethnicities in New Zealand."

Rotorua's MPs all spoke at the vigil and Coffey said they stood together.

"This tragedy is unprecedented. It's a day to put down our political colours. We stand together.

"I'm an MP for our region but today I stand here as a broken New Zealander."

He told members of the Muslim community at the vigil Rotorua would not stand for the violence shown in Christchurch.

"Look around you. We care, we really do care. We've come to tell our Muslim community we welcome you, we stand by you."

#WATCH: A crowd has gathered at Ohinemutu to show support for Christchurch following yesterday's shootings.

Posted by Rotorua Daily Post on Friday, 15 March 2019

Rotorua MP Todd McClay said since the shootings he had felt anger, concern, compassion, sorrow and despair.

"This was a senseless, barbaric act of evil by someone who was not one of us but chose us because of the things we hold so dear," he said.

"From anger to sorrow, today I want to rest with sorrow. Today New Zealand feels too much like the rest of the world."

Rotorua-based New Zealand First deputy leader Fletcher Tabuteau said yesterday he was heartbroken.

But today, it was a special thing to see hundreds of people standing in support of the Muslim community.

Rotorua area commander Inspector Anaru Pewhairangi told the vigil the police were hurting too.

"While we are police officers, I can assure you our people hurt for our Muslim community. Our people hurt for what they were exposed to yesterday.

"If anything is going to bind us as a country, surely this is an event and time that will."

Rotorua councillors Merepeka Raukawa-Tait and Raj Kumar spoke at the vigil.

After the speeches, Coffey asked anyone who wanted to say something to do so and members of the Rotorua community obliged.

One young girl summed it up.

"I don't think it should matter if we are white, black, South African, English, Muslim, Christian. We're all human."

As the vigil finished the hundreds of people there, from all backgrounds, sang the New Zealand National Anthem together.