A plot of land in the red zone on the banks of the River Avon will be transformed into a place of relaxation and reflection for survivors of March 15 and their loved ones like Rashid Bin Omar, whose son, Tariq Omar, was killed in the attacks on the mosque.
A plot of land tucked into a bend in Christchurch’s River Avon will soon be turned into a garden to commemorate those killed in the city’s terror attack.
Planning began on the Salam (Peace) Garden which stems from an idea of whānau and survivors shortly after the March 15, 2019 mosque attacks.
They have rented a section of red-zoned land the size of four tennis courts between Fitzgerald Ave and Templar St, which will provide a “nice quiet place to sit and reflect on the loss of our loved ones”, March 15 Whānau The door- word of Trust, Rashid Bin Omar, said.
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Being near the cemetery where his son, Tariq Rashid Omar, and other victims of the atrocity are buried was important to Omar, so he could visit the garden on his way home from visiting his grave.
“We asked if we could have a piece of land that’s not being used, and they said, ‘Yes, you can have the red zone.’
Part of the Empowerment Project created to provide social support to the March 15 community, the garden will use $5,000 in council funding and the time and skills of volunteers.
For Janna Ezat, the garden project has been her way of giving back to Ōtautahi-Christchurch before moving to Auckland for a “fresh start” with husband Hazim Al-Umari and daughter Aya Al-Umari next month.
While she will miss Christchurch, her 25-year-old home, she said it was too hard to stay after her son, Hussein Al-Umari, was killed in the attack.
“We’ve had enough. I wanted to do something last minute for Christchurch because it’s my city. I will never forget Christchurch.
Ezat, an artist, will create the garden’s calligraphy sign.
She has a vision of a sketch in mind, but waits to put it on paper once the garden design itself is created.
“Since I was a kid, I’ve been an artist, and everything comes fast.”
She said she liked the idea of the garden and hoped it would provide a place of relaxation and peace after everything the city had been through.
“It’s a garden city, Christchurch, but it’s been hit, so you have to [a] booster.
“In my mind, if I want to come and visit Christchurch, I’ll go for peace of mind…to sit back and relax.”
Christchurch City Council’s Parks, Programs and Partnerships Manager, Kate Russell, said the garden was still in the early feasibility and planning stages and had not yet been presented to councillors.
“We are helping interested members of the Muslim community to consider the different elements that could be developed.”
The group has a temporary six-month lease from Land Information New Zealand for a 2,000 square meter area in the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor, and the council is likely to continue working with the group once development begins.
The Empowerment Project received a $5,000 council grant to help pay for topographic maps and to help bring the community together for planning.
The final cost of the project, as well as sources of funding, have yet to be determined, and details regarding maintenance have yet to be decided.
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