Tauranga residents are standing in solidarity at a number of vigils organised throughout the city this evening to mourn the loss of 49 lives in yesterday's terrorist attack in Christchurch.

Vigils are being held on Mount Maunganui Main Beach in front of Moturiki (Leisure) Island and Yatton Park this evening.

People were on the Mount Main Beach in front of Moturiki Island to mourn the Christchurch terrorist attack.

People are laying flowers on a mound of sand shaped into a heart.

Advertisement
A heart has been carved into the sand with the words
A heart has been carved into the sand with the words "we stand with you" spelled out in shells. Photo / Zoe Hunter

Shells that spell the words "we stand with you" are on top of the sand heart.

There were hundreds of people at the Mount beach paying their respects including the Mayor Greg Browlness, councillors Larry Baldock and Labour list MP Jan Tinetti.

Aimee Ketu was visiting from Hamilton for a wedding and had brought her family down to the beach to pay their respects.

People are decorating the sand heart at Mount Main Beach. Photo / Andrew Warner
People are decorating the sand heart at Mount Main Beach. Photo / Andrew Warner

"We just wanted to show our support for everyone who had passed away," she said. "It is really tragic. We just wanted to bring the kids down to show them some love."

Ketu said she had family in Christchurch, one of which were in lockdown at one of the schools. "They are okay."

Waimirirangi Ketu,6, decorates the sand heart. Photo / Andrew Warner
Waimirirangi Ketu,6, decorates the sand heart. Photo / Andrew Warner

Brownless said he had visited both vigils today to represent the community and show sympathy for the people affected by the attack.

Councillor Larry Baldock said he had visited the Tauranga Mosque today and said it was an emotional scene. "Coming here today is a way to show our solidarity."

Labour list MP Jan Tinetti, councillor Larry Baldock and mayor Greg Brownless. Photo /Andrew Warner
Labour list MP Jan Tinetti, councillor Larry Baldock and mayor Greg Brownless. Photo /Andrew Warner

Labour list Tauranga MP Jan Tinetti said she shed a few tears when she lay flowers at the Tauranga mosque today.

"It is so moving," she said.

She was hear today to show her support. "It is about standing with our community. We are all in disbelief."

Organiser Savannah Sandlant said she was overwhelmed with the amount of people who had turned up to show their support.

From left: Manaia, 4, Riga, 8, and Tane Wesley, 16 months. Photo / Andrew Warner
From left: Manaia, 4, Riga, 8, and Tane Wesley, 16 months. Photo / Andrew Warner

A choir performed to the crowds and there was a moment of silence.

A karakia was said before the vigil begins.

It is an emotional and sombre scene at the Mount beach.

Hundreds of people sing a waiata and shared a moments silence while the sound of the waves rolled by.

Some

A crowd is paying its respects to the victims of Christchurch

people can be seen with candles while holding the New Zealand flag in the crowds.

People of all ethnicities are in the crowds of hundreds. Some people have their hands around one another as they sing along to the choir music.

A Muslim woman addressed the crowds and thanked people for their "overwhelming" support.

"I just want to say how overwhelming we are for all of your support in this darkest hour. We are all humans in the end. Thank you from the whole Muslim community."

Mayor Greg Brownless addressed the crowds and received a large applause.

He told the crowds the he had emailed the Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel.

"She is more shocked than you can ever imagine," she said.

"The people of Christchrurch are more shocked then you can imagine. Trying to put ourselves in the shoes of those who lost their loved ones is more shocking than you can imagine."

Brownless said the messages of support had been received and "did make a difference".

The crowds have just stood with the mayor and Jan Tinetti to sing the national anthem both in Māori and English.

Labour MP Jan Tinetti addresses the crowd at a vigil being held at Yatton Park. Photo/Jean Bell
Labour MP Jan Tinetti addresses the crowd at a vigil being held at Yatton Park. Photo/Jean Bell

About 30 people have gathered at Yatton Park tonight for a vigil honouring the victims of the Christchurch terrorist shooting.

Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless and Labour MP Jan Tinetti both spoke at the vigil.

Mayor Brownless said the support shown by the country was helpful for those who had been affected by the shooting.

Tinetti said the vigil was a time for New Zealanders to reflect on what this meant for us as a country.

Tauranga woman Stacy Wikaira, who organised the vigil in Yatton Park, earlier said that New Zealand was united in the face of this adversity.

"We're one country, and people all stand together as a multicultural and united country," she told the Bay of Plenty Times.

Another vigil has been planned at Te Puke's Jubilee Park tomorrow, and a combined churches prayer vigil will be held at Holy Trinity Church on Monday.

Vigil for Christchurch terrorist attack victims.

Tauranga resident Savannah Sandlant helped to organise tonight's vigil in Mount Maunganui after feeling compelled to do something for people affected by the tragic attack.

"No one ever thought that this would happen in New Zealand," she said.


Tauranga vigils:

Combined Churches Prayer Vigil
Holy Trinity Church, 215 Devonport Rd)
March 18, 7pm

Te Puke community vigil
Jubilee Park, Te Puke
Tomorrow (Sunday) at 6.30pm

Other planned vigils
Yatton Park, tonight, 6pm
Meet near BBQ and waterfall

Mount Maunganui Main Beach, tonight, 7pm
Meet in front of Moturiki (Leisure Island)