Around 100 people bowed their heads outside the Cambridge Town Hall on Friday, March 22 to commemorate one week since the Christchurch terror attacks.
The crowd surrounded the collection of flowers and messages left for the Christchurch victims and joined the nation in observing two minutes silence at 1.32pm – one week after the horrific incidents took place at Christchurch’s Al Noor and Linwood mosques
A few words were given by Cambridge Community Board member Philip Coles during the gathering. Afterwards, he described the terror attack as New Zealand’s own 9/11.
“I think it’s changed New Zealand forever, but we’ve got to stand together as a nation to make ourselves stronger and learn from it,” he said.
Coles said the community board is looking at planting a tree to commemorate the Christchurch terror attacks, in a similar fashion to the tree that was planted near the town hall after 9/11.
He said the flowers left near the cenotaph would eventually be turned into compost and used to fertilize the tree. He could not confirm exact details of when that would happen, but said the it would most likely be hashed out at the next community board meeting in a week’s time.
Meanwhile schools around Cambridge took a moment to mark the one-week anniversary, holding a moment of silence at 1.32pm – when the attack first started, or at 1.40, when police received the first call.
At St Peter’s School, the chapel bells tolled 50 times, once for each victim, during a moment of silent reflection by staff and students.
Cambridge High School observed the 1.32 silence as well as holding a colourful mufti day for Cashmere High School in Christchurch.
Cambridge Middle School students performed a haka as a form of defiance towards everything the Christchurch attacks stood for, and some wrote messages of hope. The whole school took part in a colourful mufti day as well as observing a minute’s silence during their Friday assembly .
“By doing this it allows our children to take some action, show they care and have some power over a powerless situation by showing that they choose love,” a member of the school said.
Some primary schools in Cambridge held a colourful mufti day too – colour providing a stark contrast to the dark events which took place, and raised money for the Christchurch City Council and the Mayoral Fund. Several other schools and took part in the silence at 1.40pm.
Hakas were performed by schools and community groups across the country following the two-minute silence at 1.32pm.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern joined foreign dignitaries and thousands of others at a gathering in Hagley Park opposite the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, where most of the 50 victims died, to observe the call to prayer at 1.30pm on Friday. Thousands more watched as the event was broadcast live. The prayer was followed by two minutes of silence.
On Thursday last week the prime minister announced that all military-style semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles would be banned with immediate effect. Legislation to introduce the ban, which includes high-capacity magazines and parts that can turn legal guns into assault weapons, is expected to be introduced by April 11.