Northlanders turned up en masse to walk and sing alongside the Muslim community in a show of solidarity to honour those who died in the horrific shootings at two Christchurch mosques.
Around 1000 people gathered yesterday evening to walk from Whangārei's Town Basin to Laurie Hall Park where a peace vigil was held among the many, organised by various faiths and community leaders throughout Northland.
The attendees at Laurie Hall Park said the show of support for the Muslim community from people from all walks of life showed bigotry and hatred could not win.
Jurgen Perlich said by walking and taking part in the vigil, Northlanders were sending a clear message that New Zealand's reputation as a caring and loving society has not changed.
"By showing our support, we are sending a clear message that we don't want terror in our backyard. That's not us," he said.
The death toll from the shootings at Al Noor Mosque in central Christchurch and at Linwood Mosque climbed to 50 yesterday while 36 victims were still in hospital.
It's believed no Northlanders are among the dead, the fatalities also including women and children.
The only known Northland connection with the deadly events is through former Kamo and Fiji resident Ramzan Ali, now living in Christchurch, who lost his brother Ashraf Ali.
Police arrested Australian-born Dunedin resident Brenton Harrison Tarrant who appeared in court over the weekend charged with murder.
Victims of the terror attack were remembered at events around Northland over the weekend, including at the Bay of Islands Waka Festival on Saturday where several hundred people observed a minute's silence.
Another vigil, called Northland Communities Unite, was due to take place at Horotutu Park on the Paihia waterfront yesterday afternoon.
Yesterday's vigil in Whangārei involved a mihi whakatau and karakia led by local kaumatua, prayers, songs and reflections.
"This is an opportunity for all of us in the communities of Whangārei to come together in the face of this terrible act that has impacted on Muslim families right through Aotearoa – and on all of us. This is a chance to show our compassion and honour our common humanity," co-ordinator Carol Peters said.
Whangārei mayor Sheryl Mai said the overwhelming support showed people cared and could quickly come together in an act of solidarity.
She described the loss of 50 lives in such a manner as "utter disbelief" and urged Nothlanders to make new people feel welcome in their communities.
"People who live in this community will come across strangers. Please make an effort to introduce yourself, say hello, because you just don't know what you can learn from those people.
"It's really important that we not stop at the vigil but become more tolerant and caring in our everyday lives," Mai said.
Offers of support, both moral and financial, have poured in for Northland's Muslim community from religious, civic and community leaders since the shootings.
Arise Church in Whangārei was among its branches throughout New Zealand which invited anyone for special prayers yesterday and donated all money raised to families of those that died.
The Catholic Parish Community of St Francis Xavier and the Anglican Parish in Whangārei have offered Northland's Muslim community their support and prayers.
Muslims, particularly in Whangārei, who were unable to pray at their centre on Porowini Ave since Friday afternoon following police advice, resumed prayers after the all clear was given yesterday morning.
Police are asking people returning to their daily lives to be vigilant.