New Zealand will hold a national remembrance service for victims of the Christchurch massacre on March 29, the government announced yesterday, as the country grieves over a tragedy that shocked the world.
The service will take place in Christchurch at 10:00am local time, two weeks after an Australian white supremacist gunned down 50 Muslims and wounded dozens of others during Friday prayers at two mosques in the city on March 15.
Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old motivated by the white extremist belief that Muslims were "invading" Western countries, was arrested within minutes of the massacre and has been charged with murder.
The slaughter, which he cold-bloodedly live-streamed, has rocked the normally laid-back country of 4.5 million.
The service will be held at Hagley Park in Christchurch, located across the street from the Al Noor Mosque where the killing spree began.
Most victims were gunned down at Al Noor before Tarrant killed seven more at the smaller Linwood Mosque several kilometres (miles) away.
New Zealand came to a standstill on Friday to mark one week since the bloodshed, with the Muslim call to prayer broadcast across the country from a ceremony at Hagley Park followed by two minutes of silence. Friday's ceremonies saw poignant scenes across the country with non-believers embracing Muslims, Maoris performing the traditional haka war dance, and non-Muslim New Zealand women donning makeshift Islamic headscarves in solidarity.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Thursday moved swiftly to ban the military-style rifles used in the assault, with immediate effect.
More than NZ$10.8 million ($7.4 million) in public donations to families had been received as of Sunday morning, according to the fund-raising websites GiveaLittle.co.nz and LaunchGood.com, a global crowdfunding platform focused on Muslims.