Elm commemorates attacks

Cambridge Community Board member Philip Coles, left, and Waipa District Council parks and reserves supervisor, Stephen Bagnall, with the commemorative elm tree.

A two-metre elm planted last month on a grassy rise overlooking Thornton Road’s Cambridge Bowling Club will have a special role to play in the town’s commemoration next March of the Christchurch mosque attacks.

The memorial tree has been funded by the Cambridge Community Board (CCB) and is intended to reflect the town’s support, not only for those directly affected by the attack, but for all New Zealanders, said CCB member, Philip Coles.

Fifty-one people died and 49 were injured on March 15 this year in two consecutive terror attacks in Christchurch, during which a lone gunman targeted Muslims attending Friday prayers at the Al Noor Mosque in Riccarton, and the Linwood Islamic Centre.

Coles said the new tree extended a line of existing elms overlooking the bowling green.  The ulmus camperdownii pendula is also known as a weeping elm.

“On March 15 next year, we will unveil a plaque by the tree to commemorate the events of March 15 this year,” he said. “In addition, at the exact time the first attack started, the bells at St Andrew’s Church will ring 51 times – once for each of those killed.

“After that, the commemoration will continue with the Cambridge Brass Band playing at the rotunda overlooking the bowling green.”

Parks and reserves supervisor with the Waipa District Council, Stephen Bagnall, said the flowers laid outside the Cambridge Town Hall in the aftermath of the Christchurch attacks formed part of the compost in which the commemorative tree had been planted.

“Some of the compost to which they were added after they were removed from the plaza has been used specifically for this tree,” he said.

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