New Zealand to hold national remembrance for Christchurch next Friday

Flowers, candles and letters at a makeshift memorial honoring those killed in the mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 17, 2019.
Flowers, candles and letters at a makeshift memorial honoring those killed in the mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 17, 2019.PHOTO: NYTIMES

CHRISTCHURCH (AFP) - New Zealand will hold a national remembrance service on Friday (March 29) for the victims of the Christchurch mosque massacre and their families, the prime minister's office announced on Sunday.

The interfaith service will take place in Christchurch two weeks after an Australian white supremacist shot and killed 50 Muslims who had arrived for Friday prayers at two mosques in the city on March 15.

"The national remembrance service provides an opportunity for Cantabrians (Christchurch-area residents), New Zealanders and people all around the world to come together as one to honour the victims of the terrorist attack," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement.

"In the week since the unprecedented terror attack there has been an outpouring of grief and love in our country.

"The service will be a chance to once again show that New Zealanders are compassionate, inclusive and diverse, and that we will protect those values."

More than NZ$10.8 million (S$10.1 million) in public donations have been received so far to help families of the 50 people killed in the shootings, according to a pair of fund-raising websites.

A support fund on New Zealand site GiveaLittle.co.nz received NZ$8,271,847 from more than 91,000 donors as of Sunday, while LaunchGood.com, a global crowdfunding platform focused on Muslims, netted NZ$2,546,126 from over 40,000 donors.

 
 
 
 

Ms Ardern said last week that the country would cover the costs of burying the 50 victims as well as "repatriation costs for any family members who would like to move their loved ones away from New Zealand".

The attack also left dozens of people injured, some critically.

The slaughter has rocked the normally laid-back country and prompted horror worldwide, heightened by the gunman's cold-blooded live streaming of the massacre.

Since then, New Zealanders have responded with an outpouring of support for the country's small Muslim community.

Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian, was arrested within minutes of the massacre and has been charged with murder.