Defiant vigil starts healing in New Zealand after massacre

Staff Writer

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AP) — They came together as one, more than 1,000 students from rival Christchurch schools and different religions, joining voices to honor the 50 lives lost in a massacre that has deeply wounded the cozy New Zealand city.
In a park across from the Al Noor mosque, where dozens were killed by a white supremacist gunman, the students sat on the grass in Monday’s fading daylight, lifting flickering candles to the sky as they sang a traditional Maori song.
Hundreds then stood to perform a passionate, defiant haka, the famed ceremonial dance of the indigenous Maori people.
For many, joining the vigil for the victims of the mass shooting was a much-needed opportunity to soothe their minds after a wrenching few days.
Most of the students spent hours locked down in their schools on Friday as police tried to determine if any other shooters were involved in the attacks.
Those at the vigil told harrowing tales of being forced to hide under classroom tables or on a school stage behind a curtain, of being instructed not to speak, and to urinate in a bucket rather than risk leaving the classroom for a bathroom.
Sarah Liddell, 17, said many of her peers felt intense anxiety since the attack. There was a sense of safety in coming together on Monday, she said.
“I feel like it’s just really important to show everyone that one act of violence doesn’t define a whole city,” she said. “This is one of the best ways to show everyone coming together. Some schools have little funny rivalries, but in times like this we all just come together and that’s all forgotten.”
The students draped a fence along the park with chains of colorful paper notes, each emblazoned with messages of love and hope and sorrow: “You are not alone.” ‘’This is your home. You are part of us.” ‘’We all bleed the same color.”...To read more, please refer to our print or online edition.

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