"Good things can sometimes be born from bad things."

Those were some of the words from local Muslim and organiser of yesterday's Rotorua vigil Omar Al Omari when asked to reflect on the aftermath of the Christchurch tragedy.

He said the tragedy has created an open community of hope, love and even forgiveness.

Thirteen flags representing some of the nationalities of those lost in the Christchurch massacre last Friday were marched to the centre of the local vigil yesterday afternoon.

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Rotorua vigil for Christchurch. Photo / Stephen Parker
Rotorua vigil for Christchurch. Photo / Stephen Parker

Flags held by Rotorua Girls' High School students hung in honour, unity and love for the families and communities grieving.

Hundreds turned out for the heartfelt gathering yesterday to reflect on the week that had been.

Young boy Afraz Olim, 2, and his father Faisol Miah enjoyed the vigil. Photo / Stephen Parker
Young boy Afraz Olim, 2, and his father Faisol Miah enjoyed the vigil. Photo / Stephen Parker

Students, church communities, families and a large presence of emergency service workers packed out the Village Green.

One message rang true: New Zealand showed the world how to handle the aftermath of such a horrific terrorist attack with compassion and unity.

As said by Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick, "our country has shown the world that we will not be brought down with fear", but instead brought together in unity.

She described Rotorua as a "place of diversity" and encouraged everyone to reach out to their neighbour with love at this time.

Rotorua vigil for Christchurch. Photo / Stephen Parker
Rotorua vigil for Christchurch. Photo / Stephen Parker

National MP Todd McClay put the city's feeling into a few words by saying "it really has not felt like a week in New Zealand at all".

He said it had been shown that Kiwis did it different to the rest of the world and did not hide in fear, but instead went out in the streets to share compassion.

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Waiariki MP Tāmati Coffey said the people at the vigil were a true testament to how the Rotorua community from all different walks of life could come together in unity.

Fletcher Tabuteau, the deputy leader of New Zealand First, said all those affected were in our thoughts and prayers.

Rotorua Girls' High School students marched with flags to honour the some of the nationalities of those lost. Photo / Stephen Parker
Rotorua Girls' High School students marched with flags to honour the some of the nationalities of those lost. Photo / Stephen Parker

A representative from the Muslim Council, Ayham Semiz, said the terrorist who committed the horrible hate crime failed in his quest to divide the nation.

He asked the community not to seek revenge, as that was not what the Muslim community wanted.

Al Omari burst into tears as he spoke of those lost.

A Palenstinian-refugee himself, he said some of those who lost their lives would have come to New Zealand with a beautiful dream to escape hate and violence.

Rotorua vigil for Christchurch. Photo / Stephen Parker
Rotorua vigil for Christchurch. Photo / Stephen Parker

A passionate haka performed by Rotorua Boys' High School students was followed by the national anthem sung by all.

The Muslim community came together to conclude the vigil with a traditional Muslim prayer.

Ending the vigil, Chadwick was brought to the stage to cut the ribbon to a piece of art created by the Muslim community to thank Rotorua for their love, support and compassion in this hard time.

Mayor Steve Chadwick hugged a member of the Muslim community after the art was revealed. Photo / Stephen Parker
Mayor Steve Chadwick hugged a member of the Muslim community after the art was revealed. Photo / Stephen Parker

Meanwhile, the Rotorua Hospital theatre team has raised hundreds of dollars to send food down to the equivalent team in Christchurch.

Nurses Rachel Everest and JT Lim organised the gesture.

Anaesthetic technician Louise Lord said, "we knew how hard and stressful it would be to rally round and open extra theatres for an emergency like this".

The team sent pizzas down last week after raising $310.

She said the Christchurch team had sent a message of thanks.

More than $10 million had now been raised worldwide for the families and victims of the tragedy.