Mahraaz Hussein says North Canterbury is now his home.
The Landcorp farm production manager was a finalist in the Canterbury-North Canterbury Dairy Industry Awards, picking up two merit awards and giving his family cause for celebration after the devastating events in Christchurch on March 15.
Hussein was born in Fiji and raised as a Muslim. He moved to North Canterbury in 2015 with his wife, Susana, and daughters Christine, 15, and Alayna, 10, to embark on a dairying career.
His brother was injured in the shooting, and a friend lost his father, but Hussein was at work on the farm.
"I usually go in for Friday prayer when I have the day off, so I know quite a few of them. But that day I was working.
"It's been a difficult time, but we have managed with the support from the farm and the school, and the whole of the country standing behind us has given us more faith than we expected.
"We knew this country was a peaceful country and this has made us stronger."
Hussein said Fiji had a small-scale dairy industry, but he worked as a graphic designer and trained as a welder before coming to New Zealand.
He worked on a 1000-cow, 550ha farm near Oxford, which comprised a 324ha milking platform and runoff block. He managed three permanent staff and casual calf rearers.
Since moving to New Zealand, he has completed his level 5 qualifications through PrimaryITO and planned to do further study as he looked to advance his career into a farm manager position and, ultimately, sharemilking or farm ownership.
"We like it here in North Canterbury and I will definitely stay in dairying. I love this job."
Hussein won the most promising entrant award and the dairy management award, which followed the farm's success in winning most improved milk quality award for the 2017-18 season.
"This year was just for me to learn what's involved in the awards, so making the top five was a big achievement and to get a merit award was the icing on the cake.
Being recognised like this is just awesome."
His daughters attended Oxford Area School and "keep me busy on my days off" - Christine has joined the local squash and boxing clubs, and Alayna is a member of the school's kapa haka group.