Tears, song and anger as Kiwis gather to mourn Christchurch mosque shooting victims

Source: 1News

Hundreds of people gathered on the beach at Mount Maunganui at sunset tonight as vigils continued for the victims of the Christchurch mosque attacks that have killed 49 people and left dozens injured.

Hundreds gather on the beach at Mount Maunganui at sunset for a vigil for the victims of the Christchurch mosque attacks.

Thirty-six people remain in hospital, 11 of them in critical conditions after a shooting spree at two Christchurch mosques during Friday prayers.  

This morning 28-year-old Australian Brenton Tarrant appeared in a Christchurch court charged with murder. He did not enter a plea and was remanded in custody. Two others were also arrested after the shooting.

On Mt Maunganui Beach tonight, parents held children on their shoulders, fathers wiped away tears and there were candles and singing - but also anger.

MPs addressed the huge crowd and local mayor Greg Brownless also spoke and led the national anthem.

Moving vigils were also held at Tamatekapua in Rotorua and at Hamilton's Claudelands Park.

Stricken New Zealanders today reached out to Muslims in their neighbourhoods and around the country with a fierce determination to show kindness to a community in pain. 

Some Kiwis offered rides to the supermarket or volunteered to walk with their Muslim neighbours if they felt unsafe.

"Love always wins over hate. Lots of love for our Muslim brothers," read a handwritten card on a wall of flowers in a historic part of Christchurch that stretched a full block.

In online forums, people discussed Muslim food restrictions as they prepared to drop off meals for those affected.

Meanwhile, vigils are set to continue around the country for days to come.

In Auckland, a prayer service will be held at the Catholic Church opposite the Ponsonby Mosque at 4.30pm Sunday to which members of the mosque have been invited. 

"We are gathering to offer our heartfelt prayer and support for our Muslim sisters and brothers," a spokesperson for the Catholic Diocese of Auckland said.

The prayer service, at which all are welcome, will conclude with a procession across the road to the mosque and laying of floral tributes.

A vigil will is also scheduled on the church steps in Nelson on Sunday.

This weekend there were many planned events to celebrate New Zealand's cultural melting pot, but they've been cancelled after the mosque attacks. 

The last day of Polyfest was called off. Bryan Adams' concert in Christchurch's Hagley Park did not go ahead, and Wellington's Pride Parade has been put on hold. 

- With The Associated Press