15 Nov 2015

'It's just innocent people'

8:35 am on 15 November 2015

More than 100 people, most of them French, gathered in central Auckland last night following the deadly attacks in Paris.

Many were young with no-one else to turn to and some described feeling stuck and helpless in New Zealand, half a world away from the deadly attacks.

Vigil at Aotea Square, Auckland following the Paris attacks.

Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson

In Aotea Square they lit candles, laid placards on the ground and sang - before a long period of silence broken only by the noise of traffic running down nearby Queen Street.

One of the organisers, Géraldine Clermont, had also helped organise a rally following the Charlie Hebdo shootings in January.

She said no-one expected they would be at such an event again.

"What strikes me today is the silence, I don't think anybody really wants to talk because there's no logic behind it.

"It's just innocent people ... most of the people, they're just shocked - they find it awful - it's like a horror movie."

Many at the vigil were visibly shaken and in tears, and some in silence sat next to the burning candles.

Antoine Cauchois is on an internship in New Zealand and has has been in the country since July.

"I would like to be in France with my family," he said.

Others, like Nadine Plet from the French New Zealand Chamber of Commerce, have been in New Zealand a lot longer.

"This is absolutely tragic... this is to mark and to demonstrate that we are as a country together and that nobody will actually destroy us.. we are together.

"It's nice to see that everybody is aware of what's going on, but it's also tragic because it's only ten months after Charlie Hebdo," she said.

About 100 people gathered in Aotea Square, many of them French, following the deadly attacks.

About 100 people gathered in Aotea Square, many of them French, following the deadly attacks. Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson

Vigil at Aotea Square following the Paris attacks.

Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson

Trade Minister Tim Groser, who's been preparing for the upcoming Paris Climate Conference, was at the gathering and was loudly applauded when he ended his speech with: 'Vive la France, Vive la Liberté'.

The New Zealand Embassy in Paris has confirmed no New Zealanders among those who died, but it was still unclear whether there were any New Zealanders among the injured. The New Zealand government is advising against all tourist and non-essential travel to Paris and the Ile de France area until the security situation stabilises.

Auckland's War Memorial Museum lit up in the colours of the French flag last night to show solidarity with Paris.

Auckland's War Memorial Museum lit up in the colours of the French flag last night to show solidarity with Paris. Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson

Sky Tower lit up in the colours of the French flag in a gesture of support.

Sky Tower also carried the French colours Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

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