Terror attacks marked in Central Otago, Wanaka

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The terrorist attack of two Christchurch mosques on March 15 last year sent shockwaves around New Zealand and the world. One year on, reporter Simon Henderson looks at the terrible events of the day and some of the responses by people in Central Otago and Wanaka.

News of multiple killings by a lone gunman in Christchurch began to emerge in the early afternoon of Friday, March 15, 2019.

The first target of the terrorist was Al Noor Mosque in Riccarton, where the terrorist walked into the building during Friday prayers, targeting hundreds of worshippers.

The gunman livestreamed his attack on social media minutes of carnage that killed men, women and children.

He then drove to Linwood Islamic Centre to continue his attack.

A stunned nation learned that 51 people were killed in the shootings, and about 40 more were in hospital in critical condition.

Like many across the country, the local community in Central Otago rallied in support of the Muslim community.

People in Queenstown gathered for a candlelit vigil in Earnslaw Park and a vigil on Wanaka’s lakefront was attended by about 1500 people.

A vigil at the Clyde Railway Station was a show of solidarity and an olive tree was planted as a sign of remembrance.

As well as opening their hearts, the community also rallied to raise funds, and tens of thousands of dollars were donated for victims of the tragedy.

The accused gunman is facing 51 charges of murder, 40 of attempted murder and one under the Terrorism Suppression Act, and the trial is scheduled to begin in June.