'We have the power to stop the terror': Rousing vigil speech
MUCH like her fellow compatriots, former Christchurch resident Tessa Patrick mourned the loss of the innocent.
Her home city had never witnessed such pain as March 15 brought - when 50 men, women and children were murdered in a mosque.
Hours away from the massacre, feeling "more alone than ever" in her adopted country, Ms Patrick cried for her motherland.
The former Daily journalist hit rock bottom at the devastating news.
On Sunday night, Ms Patrick spoke at a candlelight vigil at Alexandra Headland, reflecting on the horror and sadness of New Zealand's darkest days.
Her rousing speech, accompanied by a traditional Maori greeting helped rally the hundreds of mourners.
"Christchurch was once, and will always be, my home. I was privileged to be able to share this city with people of all nationalities, faiths and walks of life," Ms Patrick said.
"I am grounded in disbelief, shell-shocked by the terror incited on a group of people, a community of New Zealanders, who in the very moment of their murder, had opened their hearts to their God.
"I always have been so proud to come from Aotearoa - New Zealand.
"Now more so than ever, as I see my home country unite in love."
Ms Patrick credited the "incredible" work of vigil organiser Jameela Pehi, who put in "so much hard work" at short notice.
The gathering that was originally meant for just her family, quickly spiralled into something special.
A small mound of flowers left at the Sunshine Coast Muslim Association in Maroochydore had increased - a sign of the Coast's compassion for their friends across the ditch
Ms Patrick said the hate crime that ended with an act of terrorism, began with the same throwaway remarks used day in, day out.
She called for far-right wing Australian politicians to end their callous fear-mongering and casual racism.
Should our politicians take responsibility for extremist behaviour online?
This poll ended on 19 April 2019.
Yes, these people don't deserve a voice.
No. It's called freedom of speech for a reason.
I don't think anyone could control offensive behaviour online.
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
"You only have to look at our alarming statistics of violence. At the PC gone mad comments, the arguments to use freedom of speech as a platform for hate," she said.
"We see it in the very voices and opinions being given rise and validity through the governments of Australia.
"This should not be the world as we know it.
"We can create change. We can call out this behaviour when we see it online. We can educate our friends and families on the dangers and obscenities of casual racism."
We have the power to stop this terror in the tracks."
She implored with all walks of life to embrace their Muslim comrades - give them a chance, and try to see the world through their eyes.
"No matter your faith, you have a right to feel safe and loved in the country you call home," she said.
"Let's not reflect on the monsters that insight this fear and pain. Let's starve them of their oxygen and their desperation for their hatred to be heard."