Hundreds of Otago Polytechnic students, staff and whānau joined in a circle of peace outside Dunedin’s Al Huda Mosque on Friday 22 March, a week after the horrific attack on the Muslim community in Christchurch that left 50 dead.
The group had earlier attended a service led by Kaitohutohu Janine Kapa and Chaplain Steve Downey in the atrium of Otago Polytechnic Hub on Forth St, before joining Acting Deputy Chief Executive Megan Gibbons on a walk to Al Huda Mosque, where they presented the Muslim community with a book of condolences and a signed banner featuring words of sympathy and support.
Chaplain Steve Downey: “For me, aroha is the greatest gift we can give another person – that unconditional love, irrespective of any differences.
“It is the love Jesus demonstrated more than 2000 years ago by laying His whole life down for people of all backgrounds, beliefs and status.
“So, today, we stand with every person in our nation as an expression of love and support – like many have been doing all week. May this aroha continue to grow in our nation.”
Today’s ceremony followed a silent march and civic vigil at Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium on Thursday night, attended by an estimated 18,000 people. In memory of the 50 lives lost in Christchurch, Oonagh McGirr, DCE Learning and Teaching Services, lit a candle on behalf of Otago Polytechnic, as did 49 other representatives from a wide range of community groups.
Phil Ker, CEO, Otago Polytechnic: “Our thoughts are with all of our Muslim alumni, students, staff members, friends and whānau, and with Otago Polytechnic's Christchurch community.
“Otago Polytechnic stands strongly for diversity and inclusion, and strongly against intolerance and violence.
“Over the past week we have seen many examples of our value of manaakitaka – caring – in action. Many Otago Polytechnic people are fundraising, organising events and supporting our students and whānau.”
Published on 22 Mar 2019
Orderdate: 22 Mar 2019
Expiry: 31 Jul 2019