‘Racism still exists here and it is up to each of us to address it’

Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins. PHOTO: ALLIED PRESS FILES

The Dunedin City Council has opted not to formally commemorate the Christchurch terror attack anniversary after discussions with the Otago Muslim Association.

On March 15 last year, a gunman killed 51 people at the Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre.

A man has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, attempted murder and engaging in a terrorist act.

The trial is scheduled to begin at the High Court in Christchurch on June 2.

In a statement, Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins said all New Zealanders were affected by the tragic events of that day.

“As a city we respect that commemorations are not part of the practice for those of the Muslim faith.

“We would instead ask that our citizens honour those killed and injured by welcoming and supporting all the diverse peoples within our community.

“It is a sad fact racism still exists here and it is up to each of us to address it.”

Race Relations Week events, held in Dunedin this week, gave people an opportunity to learn about cultural differences and similarities, he said.

Events are being co-ordinated by the Dunedin Multi-Ethnic Council with support from the city council.


Honour them with kind acts

Brenda Harwood

Acts of kindness and good deeds are the best way to honour the 51 people killed in the Christchurch mosque attacks a year ago.

That’s the message from the Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral, the Rev Dr Tony Curtis, before Sunday’s anniversary.

“We have been listening to the wishes of our brothers and sisters in the Muslim community, and so we will not be marking the day as an official anniversary,” Dr Curtis said.

“However, we will remember them in our prayers on Sunday, and I will be urging the congregation to remember and honour those who have been lost through good deeds.”

He encouraged people to “pay it forward by doing something good to help other people”, as well as supporting Dunedin’s former refugee and migrant communities.