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Mayor: They are our friends and neighbours

Christchurch is focusing on providing practical support to the families of yesterday’s mosque shootings, that have killed 49 people, Mayor Lianne Dalziel says.

The city is diverse, she said at a media briefing this morning, and has welcomed new people from many countries and cultures. The city’s Muslim community is part of the Christchurch community, she says.

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

Dalziel hinted at some sort of public event for the community to show support and grieve. But with people still injured in hospital it was too early to talk about details.

“We will find a time and a place for us to come together and to share that sense of grief and loss but also to share that sense of love, compassion and support that we feel for these communities.”

Christchurch was strangely quiet this morning, with much of Saturday sport – especially that played in Hagley Park – abandoned. The cricket Test between New Zealand and Bangladesh was also cancelled, as was tomorrow night’s Bryan Adams concert. Part of Brougham St, where a suspect’s car was forced off the road yesterday, was cordoned this morning. But stall holders are setting up in Cathedral Square for today’s market and the city’s tram tourism attraction is running.

The quiet on the ground has been broken by a police helicopter. Flags at city council buildings are flying at half mast until further notice.

Dalziel says there will be a large number of funerals, and there are specific requirements for Muslim funerals.

“The council is working very closely with the communities to ensure that there are proper places available for preparation and for appropriate graves to be dug. They are being dug today.”

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