I am very sorry I am not able to be with you tonight to share our city’s love, compassion and show of solidarity for New Zealand, especially the people of Christchurch, who continue to suffer terribly as a result of Friday’s terror attack.

Like all of you here, I remain distressed, saddened and dismayed by the shootings at the Masjid Al Noor City Mosque and the Linwood Masjid Mosque which have now claimed 50 innocent lives.

I have this weekend spoken with Dr Ata-ur Rahman, of the Muslim Association of the Riverina Wagga, to express my condolences for this terrible loss of life of people who shared his Islamic faith.

This tragedy has affected not just those who practice Islam, but all people to whom peace, tolerance and harmony are not merely words but are principles by which they lead their lives.

While tragedies such as these seek to damage us, they also strengthen our resolve that goodness will always triumph over the dark forces of violence, intolerance and hate.

Where this darkness tries to destroy us, the light of what we truly believe in and use to guide our lives will shine and overcome.

It is fitting tonight’s vigil is held in the Victory Memorial Gardens, a place where the sacrifices of ex-servicemen and women who have fought to protect our freedoms and values for more than a century are honoured and celebrated.

Australians and New Zealanders are bonded like few other peoples. And it’s not just because our Kiwi mates are just across the ditch or that as ANZACs our ancestors were brothers in arms at Gallipoli.

It’s because we share those principles of which I spoke earlier and have always had each other’s back during the tough times – just like you are doing now.

I hope you leave the Victory Memorial Gardens tonight with love in your hearts for the victims, a resolve not to be bowed by terrorism, tolerance for all faiths and a commitment to peace.

Peace be with you – As-salamu alaykum.

Hannah Maguire