Six months ago today, Farid and Husna Ahmed were praying in their mosque when a gunman stormed in and opened fire. Husna hurried the women and children to safety and was shot dead as she ran back into the mosque to help her husband who uses a wheelchair. Miraculously, Farid survived. Days later he bravely and unbelievably told the Herald that he had forgiven the man who gunned Husna down. Today Farid is still grieving for her - but has another strong message for the world. He shared his words with senior reporter Anna Leask.
Time and tide wait for none.
Six months has passed after the tragedy in Christchurch mosques.
March 15 is gone, 51 lives are gone but has the memory of that tragedy gone too?
Have the Christchurch residents brushed it off from their minds?
Are the communities still coming together to be close to each other? Or are people starting to forget about something terrible that happened in this city?
The way I see it, how can we forget the black day in our city after only six months?
March 15 was an unfair insult on our city.
This city has a great reputation, and the residents here have been very lovely.
On that day Christchurch citizens were shocked because they never believed before that such a horrible civilian killing would take place in the heart of their safe city.
The terrible killing has wounded the hearts of Christchurch residents - along with all Kiwis.
How can that deep wound be healed after six months?
The March 15 tragedy made residents cry, made many first responders risk their lives to protect their fellow humans, people from all walkways came running for help and so on.
Can that dedication be forgotten so easily?
For me and other victim families, after six months, we have not forgotten our loved ones at all.
We are still grieving, but we are carrying the grief to move on.
We feel sad for losing our loved ones, but at the same time, we feel happy with the belief that our loved ones are in a happy place.
Every day, we celebrate their achievement in our hearts.
We pray for our loved ones many times daily.
We cry for love, but that crying makes us stronger every day.
We call March 15 a "Martyr Day" because we believe that the peaceful worshippers were martyred.
We wish the killer understood - we know that he wanted to ruin some people - but those people are smiling in forever, happy in paradise.
I wish he understood that this was his loss.
March 15 is a permanent deep scar in our hearts, but we want to focus on the positive things.
I hope we remember this day to learn from it, to lay the foundation of peace from it.
How about the communities coming together as they did after March 15 - has that stopped?
As far as I know, the communities are still coming together.
There are individual efforts, group efforts, religious organisations' efforts, non-governmental organisations' efforts.
They are all still going on.
People are still visiting the mosques, bringing gifts, paying their respect every single day.
I would say that March 15 had initiated the bridging between groups in the community and it keeps going wider and wider.
It has laid the foundation of unity, and the building work is ongoing.
It is work that must be continued without any break.
The support from central government, local government keeps going and professionals, employers, business people, schools, neighbours, friends and so on are still showing their generosity in helping the victims or victim families.
There is so much compassion, love and support from all avenues, that it is impossible to write in just a few words.
The outpouring continuous love can be summarised in one sentence and that is: This great nation has replaced one hate with millions of loves.
I always pray to God with these words.
"Oh God - open the doors of your mercy for New Zealanders, the way they have opened their kind hearts for their fellow humans."
Our communities can't afford to forget March 15, 2019.
Our communities must take March 15 as a lesson.
The lesson is that if the evil could take place in the city of love, compassion and spirituality, then it can happen anywhere and to anyone.
The country has reacted to the tragedy well, and it must continue coming together to stop it happening in the future.
We must work together to make our nation safer for our next generations to come.
It is a responsibility on us.
I feel positive about wise and peace-loving New Zealanders who will continue coming together as one.
I am confident that Kiwis will be a role model in this world in loving and caring towards other humans as one large human family.
March 15 will be remembered in the history that peace-loving New Zealanders have rejected hate and embraced love.
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