Thousands gathered at the TSB Bowl of Brooklands on Friday night, for a candlelight vigil to honour the Muslim community and the people of Christchurch.

The event, organised by Migrant Connections Taranaki, the Muslim Association of Taranaki, local iwi and hapūand New Plymouth District Council, was managed by Bryan Vickery of Hokonui.

The vigil began with a karakia and ended with everyone singing Lean on Me.

Listen to the crowd singing Lean on Me on The Hits Taranaki Facebook page.


New Plymouth mayor Neil Holdem said events such as the vigil brought a powerful message.

"Here we all are. Unafraid. Taking our world back, showing our Muslim brothers and sisters that we are here for them in their darkest hour, offering more than hopes and prayers, offering our presence, our support, physically and emotionally.

"Beyond words. Our standing here in these numbers has power. It speaks volumes. This is what love and community connections look like, and it is a powerful force for good."

Saba Afzal, a women's representative in the Muslim Association of Taranaki, read a poem about the Christchurch attack. A video of her reading the poem is available on the Stratford Press Facebook page.

Adriana Che Ismail, a student at New Plymouth Girls High, also spoke, giving a personal reflection.

A video of her is also available on the Stratford Press Facebook page.

As dusk fell, the azaan (Muslim call to prayer) sounded and prayers began. An area had been set up for prayer, and everyone was welcomed to watch during the prayers.

As evening turned to night, the glow of thousands of candles was visible across the Bowl, as the crowd stood together in unity and solidarity.