Christchurch mosque gunman Brenton Tarrant arrives during his sentencing hearing at Christchurch High Court. (Photo by John Kirk-Anderson - Pool/Getty Images)
Christchurch mosque gunman Brenton Tarrant arrives during his sentencing hearing at Christchurch High Court. (Photo by John Kirk-Anderson - Pool/Getty Images)

Condolence book reaches NZ in time for Tarrant’s sentencing

MORE than a year after Brenton Tarrant shot and killed 51 people in a horrific terrorist attack, a book of condolences from the Clarence has reached New Zealand soil.

Spearheaded by Clarence Valley Council Mayor Jim Simmons, the condolence book was filled with messages from the Clarence community after it was revealed the perpetrator of the heinous crime was raised in Grafton.

The attack on Al-Noor mosque on March 15, 2019 shocked the world and Grafton became a focus of worldwide attention as media, politicians and the public looked for answers as to how somebody could come to commit such an atrocity.

Yesterday, as survivors and relatives of those killed in the attack read out victim impact statements at Mr Tarrant's sentencing hearing thousands of kilometres away, Council tabled a letter received from Christchurch City Council Mayor, Lianne Dalziel.

Wasseim Daragmih delivers a victim impact statement during the sentencing hearing for Christchurch mosque gunman Brenton Tarrant on August 25, 2020 in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Wasseim Daragmih delivers a victim impact statement during the sentencing hearing for Christchurch mosque gunman Brenton Tarrant on August 25, 2020 in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Ms Dalziel expressed gratitude for the action and explained the effect the influx of support had on the community.

"We have been overwhelmed by the number of messages of condolences and support … in the wake of the atrocity that struck at the heart of Christchurch's Muslim communities," Ms Dalziel said.

"Members of our local Muslim communities have told me how uplifted they have felt as a result of the outpouring of love, compassion and kindness.

"And we in turn have felt inspired by the infinite capacity for forgiveness that has been expressed."

Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel. Aaron Francis/The Australian
Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel. Aaron Francis/The Australian

Ms Dalziel said an act that was "designed to divide us" had united them as a city and as a nation and the message it sent across the world was that "this is how to respond to terrorism".

"Not with retribution, but with generosity of mind and spirit, as we build bridges across cities and across the world."

"We stand for human rights and, in condemning terrorism, we reject all actions that engender hatred violence and division. We now know where that can lead.

"Thank you once more for your letter book and cards, which arrived at a very pertinent time. It has meant a lot to us at this time."

Clarence Valley Council mayor Jim Simmons looks at letters written by schoolchildren in a small town in Western Australia they wrote in condolence over the Christchurch terrorist attack.
Clarence Valley Council mayor Jim Simmons looks at letters written by schoolchildren in a small town in Western Australia they wrote in condolence over the Christchurch terrorist attack.

The books sent to Christchurch were made available at libraries across the Clarence and it was intended that the Mayor and general manager Ashley Lindsay present them to their counterparts in New Zealand.

The pair even offered to pay their own way after a mild uproar - fuelled by the mistaken belief Council would pay for the trip - spread across social media platforms.

However, after several unsuccessful attempts to make the trip across to NZ, the book, along with a letter from the Mr Simmons, was sent to Christchurch at the end of June, 2020.



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