Many came together Wednesday evening to show their love and support for the community of Christcurch, New Zealand, in the aftermath of the deadly shootings that occurred at two local mosques last Friday. After hundreds of people participated in a traditional Maori dance called the “haka,” dozens of people linked arms and silently stood protecting Muslims who had gathered to pray that evening.
“We are here because love is greater than hate, that’s the theme. We are here tonight for our Muslim whanau,” said biker and pastor Derek Tait, who spoke at the event. “Whanau” is a Maori term for extended family.
The Violence and Its Aftermath
On Friday, March 15, a gunman opened fire on worshippers at two mosques in Christchurch, killing 50 people and wounding 50 more before authorities intervened. Police believe that the suspect, Brenton Harrison Tarrant, would have attacked a third location had he not been stopped. Tarrant, 28 years old, also live streamed himself going room to room, shooting people and was apparently motivated to commit his act of terrorism out of white supremacist ideology. Before the shooting, he posted a 74-page manifesto online called “The Great Replacement,” which according to Channel News Asia, “repeats popular far-right conspiracy theories about how white Europeans are being deliberately replaced by non-white immigrants.” Footage of the shooting was uploaded to the Internet afterward. Police urged people not to share it with one another and quickly worked to take it down.
In defiance of the violence and fear Tarrant incited, Muslim worshippers have continued praying in front of the first location he attacked, the Al Noor mosque. But Wednesday was different, as close to a thousand people attended “Haka for Hope,” an event hosted by Man Up Canterbury. Man Up Canterbury is a program that helps men to “become better fathers, husbands, brothers and leaders in their home and community” and which is affiliated with a biker club, the Tu Tangata Riders. Multiple biker gangs and clubs rode to the event and helped to lead attendees in the haka. The Maori dance is “a fierce display of a tribe’s pride, strength and unity” and involves “violent foot-stamping, tongue protrusions and rhythmic body slapping to accompany a loud chant.”
HAKA FOR HOPE FOR OUR MUSLIM COMMUNITY. Christchurch coming together in LOVE ❤️
Posted by Ani Tait on Wednesday, March 20, 2019
Derek Tait rides with Tu Tangata and is the senior pastor of Destiny Church Christchurch. He spoke to the crowd, emphasizing the unity that should be between people of all races and rhetorically asking, “What color are your tears?” He also noted that people’s efforts toward peace and unity should continue beyond that night: “It should be from here forward that we make a stand against any hate at all.”
A woman named Nuha Asad who lost her husband in the shooting deeply appreciated the support: “The New Zealand community really cares for us and we’re really together in this. It made us a little happier in the grief.”
Several biker gangs are planning to protect Muslim worshippers this coming Friday during Friday prayers.
On its Facebook page, Haka for Hope’s organizers said,
Such an incredible turnout at our Haka for Hope event tonight! At least a thousand people gathered to show their love and support for our Muslim brothers and sisters at the Deans Ave cordon.
Our city joined together as one to do the Tika Tonu haka, sing our National Anthem and finished with a waiata.
We would like to thank you all for coming along.
A big thank you to all the bike clubs and gangs who came together with one days notice and made it all happen.
A special mention to the Canterbury Police for escorting all the bikers with only hours of notice and to the officers who were holding it down at Hagley.
Thank you Thank you Thank you ❤️❤️
We stand with our Muslim community, and love is greater than hate. Tu Tangata!