National | Christchurch

Hundreds form human chain to protect Kilbirnie Mosque worshippers

Hundreds formed a protective human chain of unity outside Wellington's Kilbirnie mosque to protect those praying inside and also commemorate those lost in the Christchurch mosques attack.

Shoulder to shoulder united by grief, coming together in love, hope and unity.

International Muslim Association NZ President Tahir Nawaz says "it clearly shows the New Zealand community and public is with us and the main purpose is to show the solidarity to us, to pay condolences, and to assure us that whatever happened we are going to stay strong, and the community will be with us all the way."

Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngā Mokopuna sang waiata as a tribute to the 50 lives lost and performed haka in the lead up to proceedings to show their support.

Student Remy Taong told Te Ao the students were here “to give our love to everyone and support this cause in New Zealand.”

Ngā Mokopuna Teacher Karina Ngaropo, Kaiako says, “[the Muslim community] are the same as Māori. Some of their protocols and practices are very similar to ours and knowing that love is what matters most.”

The mosque was at full capacity during prayers and Nawaz says in the wake of the attacks they are looking to make some changes to help build more relationships in the community. “Having an incident like this I think we realise as Muslim organisations we need to make sure we open our doors more often than once a year and let the people know who we are and be more welcoming and let them know who we are.”

Iwi will visit next week. Nawaz says he looks to discuss ways to implement Māori culture into the mosque to further build the relationship between the communities.