The heart doctor moved to Christchurch from Palestine 23 years ago for a better future, his wife said.

"It's terrible ... we were hoping to find a better future for us and for the children we were planning to have," Hanan Hamid said.

She described her 57-year-old husband as a "very kind man", but struggled to say more.

"It's hard to talk about him."

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Amjad and Hanan had two sons, Husam, 22, and Mohammed, 20.

Amjad Hamid was a consultant in cardiorespiratory integrated specialist services at Canterbury District Health Board for 20 years, but his elder son said he had recently taken up a role in cardiology at Hawera Hospital in south Taranaki.

He rotated three weeks at the hospital with three weeks at his Christchurch home, Husam Hamid said.

Family had gathered to support each other, but it was tough.

"This is meant to be a safe country. New Zealand is changing forever."

His mother was "struggling", he said.

"My mum, she loves him so much."

Mohammed Hamid wanted to say only one thing: "I just really loved my dad."

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