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CVC to memorialise NZ massacre

Geoff Helisma |

Seven of Clarence Valley’s councillors have supported a decision to have council’s staff prepare a report that “explores locations in the Grafton area for a permanent memorial [including memorial types], to be erected to recognise the tragic events of 15 March 2019” in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The decision took place at an extraordinary meeting, called by the mayor, Jim Simmons, on Tuesday March 19.

In his mayoral minute, Cr Simmons wrote: “The fact that members of our community have a connection to the tragic event in Christchurch on Friday has touched us all.

“The people of Grafton and the Clarence Valley share the sense of grief and outrage over the senseless killing of scores of innocent people in Christchurch.

“This was an extreme act of violence and the people of the Clarence Valley express our deepest sympathies and condolences for those who were killed and injured, as well as their friends and family, for the losses they have suffered.

“It is a shocking reminder that no community, no matter how small or peaceful, is immune to terrorism or the people who perpetrate it.

“That the alleged perpetrator came from the close and caring community I represent is almost impossible to comprehend.

“We should also be careful not to blame his family for these alleged crimes as they, too, are innocent and will be suffering immeasurably.

“The tragedy that has transpired isn’t a reflection of Grafton or Australia, nor is it a reflection of New Zealand.

“This type of tragedy is a result of extremism.

“Sadly, the internet and the evolution of social media [are] enabling hatred to spread quickly and to gain a worldwide audience.

“It is important that our reaction to this tragedy does not give these misguided extremists a larger platform.

“We must stand united when events like these occur.

“…Let’s not harbour hatred for people of other cultures or religions; instead, offer our love and support.

“I would like to acknowledge the Christ Church Cathedral dean, the Very Reverend Dr Gregory Jenks, for hosting the prayer vigil … at Grafton’s Christ Church Cathedral.”

Councillor Simmons gained the support of all councillors to “open a ‘Book of Condolence’ to the citizens of Christchurch, for Clarence Valley residents to sign”, which will be available until April 30 at the council’s libraries and customer service offices at Grafton and Maclean.

The mayor and general manager will “attend a memorial service in Christchurch at the appropriate time” and present the ‘Book of Condolence’ to the Mayor of Christchurch.

A Clarence Valley council spokesperson confirmed that they will pay their own way.

Councillors Karen Toms and Greg Clancy did not support Cr Jason Kingsley’s memorial amendment to the mayor’s original motion (seconded by Cr Richie Williamson); however, they did support the final five-point motion.