Christchurch rallies for change after mosque attacks

7:26 am on 20 March 2019

Just four days after the mosque attacks that claimed 50 lives, some Christchurch residents are tackling the tough questions.

About 200 people from around Christchurch gathered to talk about how they can look ahead to the future.

About 200 people from around Christchurch gathered to talk about how they can look ahead to the future. Photo: RNZ / Katie Todd

A public forum last night, organised by EduAction and the Canterbury Progressive Network, attracted about 200 people and their ideas for making the city a better place.

One of the events organisers, Paul Hopkinson, said he wanted to give people the chance to answer "where to, from here?"

"This act is going to be part of our history forever... but the legacy the act leaves is up to us," he said.

"We can't change the terrible event that happened but we can change what happens after."

Among ideas put forward were calling out people for any casual racism, and supporting ethnic minorities by buying from their stores.

Arthur Monteath-Carr called on parents to be mindful of what their children could be exposed to and the communities they might be spending their time with.

Andy Welch was one of several people to call for change through education - tackling fear and ignorance in schools as well as the wider community.

Social scientist Gerard Fitzgerald spoke about lobbying their MPs for gun reform.

"Channel your anger into firearms reforms. Don't let the toxic males that run the gun culture, throughout the world, dominate in this discussion," he said.

The forum also heard from the muslim community itself - with Sri Lankan woman Iman Fahim Hameed calling on Christchurch residents to take opportunities to learn about ethnic minorities.

"Learn about Ramadan. Learn about what Friday prayers are. Come into our mosques, be part of us - so that no matter what is put on the internet, no matter what people tell you ... no-one can change your opinion because you know first-hand," she said.

Organiser Brian Turner closed the meeting by encouraging people to take the ideas on board and put them into action, saying if change is to happen, it needs to begin now.

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