On Sunday, March 15, 2020, people of Christchurch gathered at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques in a simple but powerful gesture of community. There, with the Maori traditions of haka and hongi, New Zealanders of diverse faiths and backgrounds honored the 51 worshippers gunned down at the two mosques one year ago. Members of the Tu Tangata motorcycle club performed a traditional haka, a dance of unity and peace.
The leather-clad bikers were greeted by Imam Gamal Fouda, who exchanged the Maori greeting of hongi with the group’s president, Derek Tait, wherein the two touched noses and foreheads, symbolizing unity. (It may be the last public hongi for some time, given recent health warnings and the implementation of social distancing.)
Mazharuddin Syed Ahmed, a survivor of the Linwood mosque shooting, observed that marking anniversaries was not typically a Muslim tradition but they were doing it so the wider community could grieve and remember.
“Of course, we lost our loved friends, family, people and community,” he said. “But we are also seeing so much good has come out of it. So looking at the positive part of that. Today, it is such a privilege to be in this country.”