Christchurch mosque attacks: Mayor Lianne Dalziel says city turning to practical help

1:47 pm on 16 March 2019

Maree Mahony

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel is encouraging people to lay flowers at the city's Botanic Gardens to show solidarity with people directly affected by the terror attacks.

Watch Lianne Dalziel speaking to media:

Ms Dalziel acknowledged the bravery of the first responders and said there had been expressions of love, sympathy and support from across the world.

She said city officials were turning their attention to how to assist the families of those killed and injured.

Read more:

Ms Dalziel said Christchurch was a very diverse city and had welcomed new people.

"We are talking about people in this city who have lived here for years and years and years.

"They are our friends, they are our neighbours, we embrace them at this time.

"I know I speak for all of the people in Christchurch when I say how much we want to come together to support them."

Forty-nine people died at Al Noor Mosque next to Hagley Park and the Linwood Masjid Mosque. More than 40 people are still being treated at Christchurch Hospital.

Ms Dalziel said that at a later stage there will be an opportunity to come together to share the sense of grief, loss, compassion and support.

The Botanic Wall garden on Rolleston Ave has been made available for floral tributes

Flowers for people directly affected by the mosque shootings are being lined up along a wall at Christchurch Botanic Gardens. Photo: RNZ/ Jonathan Mitchell

She said people should stay away from the cordons near the city's two mosques, where gunmen shot into crowds yesterday, and instead take flowers to the Rolleston Ave wall of the gardens.

"That's close to the hospital and I think it will be an open sign. It's a place... everyone in Christchurch knows... to lay their floral tributes."

Ms Dalziel said the site had been chosen specifically because it was so close to the hospital and its direct connection with the people whose lives have been lost.

All the floral tributes would be made available to the Muslim community, she said.

Christchurch City Council will be working with other organisations to plan an event so residents of the city can come together.

"That's a message I've heard strongly is that people want to come together and show solidarity with our members of our community that have been targeted in this way."

Laying flowers will show the city's shock and grief at what has occurred. Flowers have already been left at the cordons near the two mosques.

Council staff were working today to prepare grave sites so victims could be buried as soon as possible in line with the requirements and sensitivities of the Islamic religion, Ms Dalziel said.

Council-owned facilities are being made available to Muslims so they can pray at other sites, because they cannot use their mosques. Council staff are also working closely with ethnic communities to offer them whatever support they need.

People could also come together in their neighbourhoods to share their thoughts and help each other, Ms Dalziel said.

"That's what got us through the earthquakes," she said.

The Christchurch Foundation, which was set up in the aftermath of the earthquakes, is expected to make an announcement today about a fund to help with rebuilding communities and rebuilding what has been lost.

Ms Dalziel said she wanted Muslims to know they were a valued part of the Christchurch community, and an attack on them was "an attack on us".

While the city was grief-stricken at present, "we will come back from this and we will continue our path of welcoming people from all nations, all religions, from all cultures to our city.

"I believe we can, because of our previous experience, recover from this... the strength of the ties among the people that live in the communities, that is going to be the measure of the recovery."

People from all over New Zealand have responded so generously to a Givealittle page set up yesterday to help those affected that the website crashed. By last night the website was experiencing 20 times its normal traffic.

Spark NZ's managing director Simon Moutter said the Givealittle page crashed because of "extraordinary demand" from people wanting to donate.

On Twitter this morning he said: "Please bear with us, we are working hard to add capacity as quickly as we can."

Late this morning the site was active again and donations were closing at almost $700,000.

Acts of kindness in the city include Grizzly cafe in Sydenham giving all its takings from business today to the victims. Any food left at the end of the day will be gifted to "the hard working [Christchurch] Hospital staff".

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs