Hundreds of messages and mementoes left as tributes following the 15 March mosque attacks will be displayed at Christchurch Art Gallery on the six-month anniversary of the tragedy.
Tributes of Aroha will be open to the public from 5.30pm on Friday 13 September and during the weekend of 14 and 15 September. It will highlight the outpouring of sympathy and support from the local and international community following the shootings at Christchurch’s Al Noor and Linwood Mosques.
A memorial wall of tributes, including flowers, soft toys, cards and drawings, lined the Rolleston Ave near the Botanic Gardens in the weeks after the attacks. It became a place where Christchurch residents and visitors could go and pay their respects to the victims and their families.
Christchurch City Council, in partnership with the Muslim community, the Botanic Gardens and Gallery staff, has collected and documented the tributes and will carefully display a selection of them in the foyer and upstairs balcony of the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū over three days.
There will also be video content, photographs and a programme of talks held in the Gallery auditorium.
Council Principal Community Partnerships and Planning Advisor Claire Phillips says it’s an opportunity to reflect, six months on, on what happened and its aftermath.
“I think it’s a good opportunity for us to look back at the messages, mementoes and creations and remember and appreciate the spirit of solidarity and kindness that’s behind them.
“It’s also a chance for some of the people who were injured in the attacks or visiting family members in hospital to see these tributes, perhaps for the first time.”
Muslim Association of Canterbury Women’s Co-ordinator Jumayah Jones hopes the event will be part of the community’s healing process and a catalyst to help people move forward.
“It is important to display these tributes publicly for everyone to see and feel part of the recovery from grief. As a community we are overwhelmed by the support and aroha shown to us, so the name chosen for this event seems apt.
"We wanted to share the tributes, the cards and all the deep-felt words of aroha with the wider Muslim community and also others in Canterbury.''
An opening event will be held from 5.30pm on Friday 13 September with guest speakers from the Muslim and civic community, including Mayor Lianne Dalziel. Members of the public are welcome to attend the opening event and to view the exhibition until 9pm on Friday. The exhibition will also be open on Saturday and Sunday from 10am until 5pm.
Following Tributes of Aroha at the Gallery, some of the items will be cared for at Canterbury Museum. A working group has been established to ensure they are treated respectfully.