Eketahuna's Glynne MacLean knows too well the discrimination Muslims face every day in New Zealand.

MacLean, a fifth generation Muslim in New Zealand, told those at an emotional community vigil at St John the Baptist Anglican Church in Dannevirke, of her experiences.

"My bank in Masterton won't let me in if I have my walking stick and I'm wearing my headscarf. They say I can only have one or the other," she said.

But following the Christchurch mosque shootings, MacLean is confident we can change.
MacLean has friends and family directly affected, either in hospital critically ill, or who have died, as a result of the tragedy.

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"I felt helpless when my nephew rang me, crying so much about the five friends he had lost," she said.

But while the response being shown in New Zealand is making a huge difference, MacLean made an impassioned plea to rural New Zealand to give up their firearms.

"As I have deep roots in rural New Zealand I understand the need for guns in that community and I understand as law-abiding people, there is the very natural response of 'why? It wasn't me'. But I want us all to take one for the team," she said.

"Terrorists, when they come to attack, they try to divide us through anger and mistrust."

Tararua District deputy mayor Allan Benbow believes at least one good thing will come out of the tragedy.

"I think we will all understand the Muslim faith better," he said. And Tararua District mayor, Tracey Collis, said having our Muslim families at the vigil helped to break down barriers.

Reverend Jo Crosse said the vigil was an opportunity to bring our community together.
"As we acknowledge and grieve because of the violence, we especially hold our Muslim community in our hearts," she said. "We are people of all cultures."

Hope, faith and compassion and a strongly united New Zealand was the focus of the vigil, with candles lit for the 50 victims of the mosque shootings.

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"We talk about Jesus as the light of the world," Reverend Crosse said. "May we be people who celebrate gentleness and may we welcome friends and strangers with open arms."

Major Afolau Toluono of Dannevirke Salvation Army said we grieve for violence in all forms.

"We grieve for the loss of innocence and we grieve for the times when we remained silent in the face of violence or turned our faces away," she said.

Those in the packed church were asked to write messages of what had affected them on small pieces of paper which were placed in bowls of water to symbolise the washing away by tears.

And Greg Motu of Dannevirke's Hosanna Baptist Church, said we should all pray as a nation and a community for those who saw things they should never have to see.

"Grief opens us up to love and we will not be sad forever. There will be the light and hope," he said.

Surrendering firearms:
* Anybody wanting to surrender their firearms to police is welcome to do so.
* It is important to call them first.️
* You can contact your local police station - http://bit.ly/findyourlocalstation
* Or your local arms officer - http://bit.ly/firearmsoffices