Christchurch Students Perform Haka Dance To Honor New Zealand Shooting Victims

A member of New Zealand's Muslim community said he appreciated the students' gesture.

New Zealand citizens honored the memory of the victims of the Christchurch mosque shootings by performing the haka dance this past weekend.

The dance is a traditional Maori ritual that symbolizes strength and a sense of community, according to Mother Nature Network.

One group of mourners was composed of students from Christchurch Boys’ High School. They said performing the dance was an honor.

“It’s something that’s really special. It’s a part of our culture and it’s what we’ve done growing up, and to share that with someone through their grieving period,” Fergus Kilpatrick, 17, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. “It’s an honor. It really is.”

Mohammed Daud Kahn, a member of Christchurch’s Muslim community, told the network he appreciated the gesture from the students.

“We are very fortunate to be here in New Zealand with people … who understand our culture and our religion,” he said. “This event has scarred us but it’s also brought us closer together.”

Other students left paper notes along a park fence that read, “You are not alone.” “This is your home. You are part of us.” and “We all bleed the same colour,” according to The Associated Press.

Portia Raharaha, a 17-year-old who attended the vigil with other students from a local Catholic high school, was inspired by all the activity.

“All the races combining, all students, all ages, both genders, we’re all just coming together,” Raharaha told AP. “It definitely makes you feel like New Zealand really does come together in a time of darkness and we can really just be who we are. Nothing has really changed. Maybe it’s shaken us, but it really hasn’t changed us.”

Fifty people died and dozens more were injured in the Friday shootings, which appeared to be motivated by white supremacist ideas.

A 28-year-old Australian man was arrested and charged with murder.

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