Several hundred people gathered in Hastings' Albert Square on Friday night for the candlelit Hīkoi of Unity, to show support to local Muslims and those involved in the attacks in Christchurch.
Rev Keith Rowe said he was likely chosen to speak because of his many years working to bring Muslim and Christian faiths together.
But the occasion was also deeply personal for him. His cousin, an adult convert to Islam, was a victim at the Linwood mosque one week ago when a gunman killed 50 people at two Christchurch mosques.
"As we set out on our journey, we hold in our love the members of the Hastings mosque," Rev Rowe said.
"May the love in which they are held by our community into deeply into the are being and be a source of confidence as they continue to enrich our society."
Imam Syukri Albekami said he recently returned from Christchurch.
He said it was an unprecedented event for Aotearoa.
"When someone commits a crime, claiming to do it under a banner of religion, we don't blame the entire group," he said.
"Since 9/11 Muslims have been targeted and labelled as terrorists.
"No matter how much we try to counter it, the media always portray in negative ways.
"They have a plan, but mighty God has a better plan. They bring us all back together to clear up the haze that blinded us.
"There is no difference between white supremacists and Daesh/ISIS."
After prayers in Māori, English and Arabic, candles were lit and the hīkoi, with the majority of people wearing white, sang its way to the Hastings mosque where a gift was presented.
Hawke's Bay Islamic centre manager thanked the crowd for its love and solidarity.
"We are one people – we live together," he said.
He asked Tukituki MP Lawrence Yule to speak.
"As I stand next to my Muslim brother, on behalf of this community, we offer you ongoing care, love, support and changes.
"I acknowledge the outstanding leadership of the Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Jacinda Ardern throughout the last week.
"Nobody wanted this to happen. Nobody in New Zealand ever expected this to happen.
"But what I have observed from New Zealand... this has given me great optimism that there will be substantial change in New Zealand. We will be more inclusive, more understanding and more accepting."
The change would be "for the long journey".
"We offer you our love, support and compassion.
"On behalf of all the wonderful people here today thank you for your understanding, for tolerance in the way you have reached out to this community."