Source: Auckland Council
Community feedback and ideas will be sought for a proposed Auckland-based memorial to honour the 51 victims killed in the March 15 mosque attacks in Christchurch.
The NZ Muslim Association with support from Auckland Council and Puketāpapa Local Board have identified an area of Walmsley Reserve in Mt Roskill as suitable for the memorial and will ask the community for feedback and ideas at this Sunday’s Christchurch Remembrance event at Eden Park which is proceeding as planned.
Ikhlaq Kashkari, the President of the NZ Muslim Association (NZMA), said the Muslim community in Auckland was keen to have a special place in the city for the community to gather and pay tribute to the many whānau who lost their lives in the attacks in Christchurch a year ago.
It is envisaged the memorial would be something that integrates into the existing landscape of the park as opposed to a large structure.
“We have the largest Muslim community in the country based here in Auckland (around 80 per cent) and the community has been very clear that they want somewhere to gather and pray in remembrance of Christchurch. This memorial will provide them with a special place to do that.
“We are very grateful to Auckland Council, and Puketāpapa Local Board, who have offered a space in Walmsley Reserve for the memorial. Now we want to get feedback from the entire community, not just our Muslim brothers and sisters, as to what they would like to see included in this space.”
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff welcomes feedback from Aucklanders and strongly supports the concept and need for the memorial.
“The March 15 murder of 51 people traumatised New Zealanders but also mobilised them into rejecting the ideology of hate and embracing people of all ethnicities and faiths as fellow New Zealanders,” he said.
“A memorial will provide a place for people to remember and pay tribute to the victims of the Christchurch shootings, while also symbolising the strength that our communities gain from diversity and multiculturalism.”
A feedback booth will be open from 2pm at Eden Park this Sunday 15 March as part of Auckland’s Remembrance Event for Christchurch – Stronger Together.
Puketāpapa Local Board Chair Harry Doig says in addition to this weekend’s event, the local board will be consulting with its wider community over the coming months before any final decisions are made.
Mr Kashkari said in addition to Aucklander’s having their say on a proposed local memorial, there will also be an opportunity to ask questions of Muslim leaders and Imams (religious scholars) during an hour-long Ask Us session prior to crossing over to the live Christchurch Remembrance Service and Auckland’s own performances.
“So much work has already been undertaken and is still ongoing in terms of bringing our communities closer together since March 15 last year but there is always more we can all do to ensure a more cohesive society.
“We hope these sessions will offer an opportunity to break down the barriers further and create even stronger bonds across our many diverse peoples in Auckland because as the theme of the event states, we are Stronger Together.
Mr Kashkari acknowledged that there were still ongoing concerns within the Muslim community about Islamophobic behaviour not just in Auckland but across the country.
Since the Christchurch attacks, a helpline has been established to support the community and provide a place for people to raise these concerns but also to report incidents which are inappropriate and leave them upset and anxious.
In honour of the 51 victims and as a sign of respect, Vector Lights on the Auckland Harbour Bridge will light 51 candles representing those who have passed away.
More details about Auckland’s Remembrance Event – Stronger Together, can be found on OurAuckland.